South Korea's Education Ministry announced last week that it plans to replace all printed textbooks with digital versions in the next four years. It's part of a larger effort to integrate technology into all aspects of the South Korean education system, including moving all nationwide academic exams online and offering more online classes.
The Education Ministry says that it plans to have elementary-level content digitized by 2014, with high school level content ready by 2015.
But making textbooks available in an electronic format isn't a simple undertaking. Nor is it as easy as just offering digital versions of existing books. All of the supplementary material that often accompanies textbooks -- handouts, quizzes, study guides, and so on -- must also be digitized. A move to e-textbooks opens opportunities for new kinds of content as well, with more multimedia and interactivity available.
But there are also new challenges: how will this material be stored? Which format will it be offered? Will it be accessible to all students? What infrastructure needs to be in place -- for schools, for teachers, and for students -- to make sure that print textbooks really can be replaced?