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South Korean Textbooks to Go Digital by 2015

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the all-in-one-place dept.

Education 123

South Korea plans to spend $2.4 billion buying tablets for students and digitizing materials in an effort to go completely digital in the classroom by 2015. From the article: "This move also re-ignites the age-old debate about whether or not students learn better from screens or printed material. Equally important, there's the issue of whether or not devices with smaller form factors are as effective as current textbooks, which tend to have significantly more area on each page."

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123 comments

digital rights (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36651010)

Right, that removes the only real reason to keep buying new textbooks every year - digital copies last in pristine condition even when handled by schoolkids (no guarantee about the reader devices though). But who wants to bet the textbook companies will saddle them with restrictive licenses and digital rights management so that the schools will actually be unable to reuse the digital textbook licenses they bought the previous year?

Re:digital rights (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651046)

In all fairness they would be morons if they didn't do that, book companies are there to make money just like any other business, if you take away the profit from publishing text books (which for many there isn't much profit in many of them to start with) then why would they continue to do it?

Re:digital rights (3, Insightful)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651106)

I find it hard to believe that "there isn't much profit in many of them to start with", when I have to pay $90 - $125 for a textbook. If there isn't much profit it's because they're using antiquated printing processes that require large runs to be profitable. Even given that, at $125, I have no pity for you if you can't turn a hefty profit.

Re:digital rights (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36651142)

I am an expat who lives in South Korea. I have never seen a K-12 textbook which costs more than 8,000 won (~$8 USD). In fact, I have about five middle school textbooks on my shelf from the current year, and they only cost between 1,000 and 3,000 won each. Oddly, the "international" textbooks (read: American textbooks simply labeled as "Not for sale in the US.") actually cost about half of what they would back home.

Sadly, you get outside of textbooks, and the prices for English books are pretty costly.

Par for the course (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36651412)

. Oddly, the "international" textbooks (read: American textbooks simply labeled as "Not for sale in the US.") actually cost about half of what they would back home.

No, it's not odd, The pharmaceutical companies do the same thing. US based businesses think we're an upwardly mobile society that can continually afford to be gouged by them.

In meantime, as our standard of living continues to go down as our wages come more in line with the rest of the World, foreign businesses who know how to sell a decent product for much less are going to come into this country and eat their lunches.

It'll happen. Then those US companies are going to cry and scream at Congress about "unfair" competition and "dumping" and how they need "protection" from such "unfair" business practices. In the end, we the little people get it up the ass as usual.

Re:digital rights (1)

mercnet (691993) | more than 2 years ago | (#36652408)

All my engineering and aerospace books for school say "Not for Sale in US", do bookstores really think I am going to drop $1000?

Re:digital rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36651258)

The cost of the actual printing of a book is only a minor part of the cost, it is the proofing, graphics, layout and of course ensuring the author still gets something. Like it or not they are publishers, if you want them to handle and do everything to publish a textbook then they want to make a profit and no telling them after there outlay and risk of books not selling that they will get a few dollars a book for a textbook is not gonna cut it on something low volume. You can self publish books including printing costs for 5 or 6 bucks.

Re:digital rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36651512)

You can self-publish for 99 cents with Amazon. You keep 35% of that if I remember correctly. If you raise the price you get a bigger percentage.

I taught in Korea last year. Text books are cheap. I was at a prestigious high school and we had chalk boards to write on. Koreans are big on face, so even if they switch to digital books, I doubt they'll be used much. They'll continue to learn by rote and will continue kicking American asses on their exams. They can't create their way out of a paperbag but we can't create jobs. Is the trade off worth it? I don't know.

Re:digital rights (1)

microcars (708223) | more than 2 years ago | (#36652018)

One of the reasons that new textbooks cost so much is that there is a huge secondary market (used textbooks) that removes the original publisher from the revenue stream.
Every one of my classes requires a textbook, but the instructor will accept the use of previous versions.
Out of 24 students in one science class, I would say 8 of them have brand new books, another 8 have used books, the rest have used previous versions of the book and there are always a couple of people that borrowed a copy and used a photocopier someplace to copy all 1000 pages....
Students don't even have a textbook because the instructor will say that all the tests are based on lecture notes and PPT that are provided. When needed, they go to the library for the book.
So the publisher is only getting money from 8 of those students.
What they are trying to figure out is how to get revenue from ALL of them without giving them something they can copy and pass around.

Re:digital rights (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | more than 2 years ago | (#36653352)

I am tired of these things are expensive because of a second hand market. What a load of crap! I bought several second hand games last week, because first hand was simply too expensive. Would I have loved new games in shiny packets in pristine condition. The resale value is PART of the cost of an many items, but models for items with artificial scarcity books/movies/games/music price most consumers out of the market, simply for the maximum profits made from the few privileged. Its disgusting.

Re:digital rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36651156)

They'd continue for same reason people still publish music now it's drm free.Don't know what that reason is, mind.

Re:digital rights (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651426)

In all fairness they would be morons if they didn't do that, book companies are there to make money just like any other business, if you take away the profit from publishing text books (which for many there isn't much profit in many of them to start with) then why would they continue to do it?

Arguably, unless their lobbyists are good, the publishers would be very nervy to try too much: If the state has just announced a bold plan to move all K-12 students to a single e-text platform, guess what; the state is now by far your largest customer and the only one large enough to matter. Publishers, on the other hand...

K-12 textbooks are arduous to write; but effectively interchangeable. A number of different publishers would be capable of offering something suitable. If they don't like your price, you'll be stuck with something that virtually nobody else will buy. Also, at that scale, the 'customer' isn't really a powerless retail peon. They could easily find that purchasing the rights, as a work for hire, would be more cost-effective than purchasing copies.

Re:digital rights (1)

jrminter (1123885) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651464)

The school districts and universities compensate faculty and a fraction of the revenue they pay for text books would pay for the compensation required to write the books and a support staff to help with figures. Books are revised more frequently than needed to get the revenue from a new edition rather than because of the need for new material at the level of most courses that have textbooks. The taxpayers (for school districts) and college students pay for much they don't need because of this racket. That said, the life of electronic devices may be really short in the hands of students. I always thought the solution would be to distribute PDF copies of all the texts on USB sticks and print out the pages they need for the day on grayscale high speed copiers. The students could mark up the copies and keep them in notebooks and use the PDFs at home. Inexpensive, recycled PCs would be sufficient to help low income students...

Re:digital rights (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#36652012)

My publisher claims that about 3,000 potential sales is enough to make a textbook profitable, factoring in the cost of proofreading, layout, technical review, as well as printing and distribution. If you're buying a license for every school child in South Korea, and there are no printing costs, and you're handling the distribution yourself, then I think they'd happily sell it to you with no DRM and a country wide perpetual license. That said, there's no real reason for the publisher to be involved at all. There educational system could quite easily pay textbook authors directly and own the copyright themselves.

Re:digital rights (4, Insightful)

muuh-gnu (894733) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651102)

> digital copies last in pristine condition even when handled by schoolkids

This problem could have been solved by handing out pdfs, which they can print out over and over again. They could make notes on them and still have the originals. They wouldnt have to carry the whole book around all the time, they could just take a few pages they need. They wouldnt have to take as care of them as of books, becouse they could always be reprinted when destroyed or lost.

Why does the education system rely on overpriced commercial literature at all? Why doesnt it work to hire 1-2 experts per subject and let them write for hire definitive textbooks for the particular subject which then could be used without any royalties for years and decades by thousands of students? Why are they forced to buy new books over and over when everybody has a printer at home?

Re:digital rights (1)

meburke (736645) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651218)

Yeah, I think that e-books and digital PDF's are a good thing. I can see the day when a quality text on a technical subject will be priced at $3 -$4 and still make enough to cover editing and graphics, and still provide a good profit for the author. Everyone wins.

Of course, I want my e-reader to allow me to highlight topical sentences, add notes to my text, create combination outlines and notes, fill in Toulmin tables, create repositories of practice exercises, do intelligent review planning and scoring, move with my fingers when I'm using my Evelyn Wood reading methods, and create mind maps (possibly in combination with my outlines like an old Mac program I had a few years back).

Re:digital rights (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651226)

Vested interests and juicy juicy profit of course. I hope South Korea works with ebooks rather than tablets, but for me the most interesting part will be how they roll out the distribution network for the data.

Re:digital rights (1)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651322)

Why does the education system rely on overpriced commercial literature at all? Why doesnt it work to hire 1-2 experts per subject and let them write for hire definitive textbooks for the particular subject which then could be used without any royalties for years and decades by thousands of students?

I like the idea and all, but if they could do this, they probably would. The good textbook writers wouldn't sign a deal to write a textbook for you unless they got some royalties though. Then if you want printed copies, you need to get a publisher to print them for you... so you're back where you started anyways.

It might be feasible once everything is electronic, but it would basically just be a way of cutting out the publisher, since good authors are still going to want royalties.

Re:digital rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36651462)

You would eventually find experts willing to work for a commission, not royalties - one large single-time payment for transferring all copyright to the customer (govt), no royalties past that (but a promise for update contracts on similar basis).

Re:digital rights (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#36652032)

The good textbook writers wouldn't sign a deal to write a textbook for you unless they got some royalties though.

We wouldn't? I'd happily sign over all of the rights to a book that I'd written in exchange for an up-front payment. If I think a book will make $n over 5 years, and you offer me $n up front to release it under a permissive license, I'd be an idiot not to accept.

Re:digital rights (1)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#36652156)

You're right of course, but it seems unlikely that anyone would offer you $n up front.

Re:digital rights (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#36652338)

$n is probably quite a lot less than they'd pay the publisher for the rights to a country-wide license for a book...

Re:digital rights (3, Interesting)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651334)

This problem could have been solved by handing out pdfs, which they can print out over and over again.

You are aware that printer ink is one of the most expensive commodities on Earth, right?

However, You can do all those beneficial things WITHOUT INK or toner, if you just had a tablet PC... Make notes, "File -> Save As..."

As for printing...WHY? Just call up the document from the wireless server if it's not in your course data package on your device for some reason.

I had to buy all of my textbooks in Highshcool because of a car accident. The cost was over $500 -- That was one semester / one year, and get this -- now that I've long sense graduated: I can't refer to the books.

However, when I taught myself to code in 1992 (age 12) I saved the example code that I had entered and some references and guides I downloaded from Compuserve and other BBSs -- Oh, look, it's on my local NAS, and my S3 storage, and I can pull it right up on my desktop, my netbook, my thinkpad, or my OLPC, from anywhere in the world, at any time (provided Internet access is available, or I've had the forethought to download it to the internal storage).

You know, for a race that's actually got some amazing technology that we only dreamed of in the recent past, we sure are reluctant to use it...

Re:digital rights (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651466)

Toner, on the other hand, is pretty cheap. And if you intend to print a book, you're much better off picking some semi-bulk service like a print shop than trying to use your home printer.

Re:digital rights (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651360)

Why does the education system rely on overpriced commercial literature at all?

Because it is one "system". We get mandates handed down From On High. Teachers must teach to [unfunded] NCLB mandates, which means they need a text which is suitable for this purpose. In higher education it is common for instructors to make agreements to use each other's textbooks to create a market for each. In essence, it's all the usual bullshit greed.

Re:digital rights (1)

TomHeal (2261306) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651674)

Why does the education system rely on overpriced commercial literature at all?

Good question. Perhaps we could start a Wikipedia style website for people to contribute educational material. This information could be organised textbook style and printed cheaply and easily for use in schools.

Re:digital rights (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36651164)

Korean public schools don't reuse textbooks. They are purchased new every year by the students. They're ridiculously cheap, too. They get filled with study notes over the course of the year. (I'm an expat teacher.)

Re:digital rights (3, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651414)

I think asian countries are a bit different. At least in Japan, they don't heft heavy tomes of text books around, but use 6-8 week pamphlet that have their lessons/content for that period of time in that subject. I'm under the impression that those are owned by the school system.

If wikibooks or similiar took off, no reason that can't happen in schools. After all, there is no reason to really update algebra/calc books all that much. It was pretty much the same today as 100 years ago.

http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Main_Page [wikibooks.org]

Re:digital rights (1)

microcars (708223) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651976)

it is already being done.
I'm in college right now and looked up what my options were for digital versions of my textbooks.
A Microbiology textbook that cost $180 in hardcover was $84 "digital" but it was not a PDF. It was originally a PDF but converted to FLASH and only readable on a computer AND while connected to the internet.
The license was only good for 180 days as well.
There was an "option" to download a few chapters at a time to read offline, but the license to read those files expired after a week or so.

Publishers already include a myriad of other digital options with the purchase of a new hardcover book. All the digital options have expiration dates and limit you to using them while connected to the internet.

Oh Yeah? (4, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651012)

South Korean Textbooks to Go Digital by 2015

Oh yeah? Well in North Korea our textbooks will go digital by 2014! We'd do it even faster except we can't get enough parts to build our nkPads. Damn you Apple!

North Korea still the best Korea!

Re:Oh Yeah? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36651030)

Meanwhile, the United States tries to move to digital books, but lobbyists and obstructionists makes it easy to make a spineless president compromise, so every child gets a digital photo frame filled with JPEG photos of paper books instead. And the chapters on evolution? Oh someone corrupted those JPEGs!

Happy 4th of July!

Re:Oh Yeah? (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651050)

Meanwhile, the United States tries to move to digital books, but lobbyists and obstructionists makes it easy to make a spineless president compromise, so every child gets a digital photo frame filled with JPEG photos of paper books instead. And the chapters on evolution? Oh someone corrupted those JPEGs!

That's because you're doing it wrong! By missing those chapters on evolution you miss reading about how North Korea evolved into the best Korea!

Remember, you can't spell 'Nook' without 'NK'!

Re:Oh Yeah? (2)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651078)

You REALLY don't think lobbyists were involved in this decision at all? Hmmm.... lets think, now I wonder what company will be providing every single student in Korea with a tablet computer...hmm....thats a tough one, but I'm sure such a huge Korean company had NO influence on this decision. Nope, none at all.

Re:Oh Yeah? (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651368)

You missed that on all those Frames is either iOS or Windows installed because the Software to show the jpegs is only available on that OS and it was "the cheapest offer"TM.

Re:Oh Yeah? (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651498)

All the cheaper competitors have a security flaw that allows unsecure files. It's called "PNG support", and you get porn in .PNG format -- won't somebody think of the children!!

Re:Oh Yeah? (2)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651754)

All the cheaper competitors have a security flaw that allows unsecure files. It's called "PNG support", and you get porn in .PNG format -- won't somebody think of the children!!

Yeah, because you can't find any porn jpegs on the internet. Well, apart from the millions of porn jpegs, I suppose.

Re:Oh Yeah? (2)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 2 years ago | (#36652024)

I'm not sure if you've noticed, but I think HAL tried to be sarcastic. There are many big companies and even politician which would try to tell us such a nonsense to support their decision, just think of the following statements: "Torrent is only used to copy music", "We need to stay open and compatible in the future, we're going with Microsoft" or my personal favorite "Nobody uses Linux".

Re:Oh Yeah? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36651450)

North Korea already has gone digital, at least in their universities. This was on a Google Tech Talk from a US Nuclear Energy Expert who has visited North Korea many times to view demonstrations (and receive political messages through backchannels to the US).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIdRSl7Dc88.

E-books are really cheap when you don't have to license them. A lot cheaper than a large library of dead trees. It's a no-brainer for a not-as-poor-as-you-think country outside the reach of international copyright to go digital. And with Chinese tablets going for US$50 or less, it's not unlikely that they have already started deploying tablets in schools.

Open Distance Learning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36651034)

I am studying towards a BSc Honours (Computer Science) at the Universtiy of South Africa (UNISA) and this is an Open Distance Learning university. It is one of the worlds mega universities. For majority of our modules we get 4 assignments and a prescribed textbook. Theory subjects are easy to learn this way, we don't get a lecturer and don't need one. However, the computer science subjects (Formal Logic, AI - Prolog, Computer Graphics) are almost impossible to learn out of a textbook. I've found that electronic media is perfect for teaching. Videos on You Tube have been invaluable for learning formal logic and AI. The animation in video beats reading 4 pages of theoroms and the videos give examples of how to answer problems where my textbooks are an epic fail.

Re:Open Distance Learning (1)

cranil (1983560) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651064)

I found Formal Logic easier to read from a textbook (I guess it wouldn't matter if it was an electronic one). I was actually an old book which my uncle had used during his college days.

Re:Open Distance Learning (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651504)

That's not about e-textbooks, though, that's a completely new teaching paradigm. Several people are doing good things with it, but most people are making a hash of it and simply adding "interactive" exercises to a straight scan of the book, and some of the exercises don't even mark themselves. There is some truly woeful e-learning out there....

Good (1)

symes (835608) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651088)

I hope this catches on more generally - I am currently sick of the amount of paper that academia churns through. Books, photocopies, papers, it is endless. It kind of feels like we are moving in the right direction...

Re:Good (2)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651120)

While Academia does churn through a lot of paper, in my experience they are also very good at recycling it.

Not to mention that while it may seem like a lot, I bet business goes through significantly more. This is because the majority of pages printed/used in academia are actually read by someone (putting a limit on the number of pages used, since we can only read/write so fast). In business vast quantities of pages are printed that are read by someone once, then printed and used over and over again without reading (contracts or other forms for instance).

Re:Good (1)

FhnuZoag (875558) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651408)

Personally, I detest this idea. Tablets are good for some things, sure, but you can't beat the leaf-ability and easy replaceability of books. My experiences with ebooks for academic work have really not worked out well.

Re:Good (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651936)

E-book readers really need to catch up in these regards.

Some of my pet peaves include writing in the margins, including doodles, quickly earmarking pages, and being able to grab text with proper reference for use in quoting.

That last one is really annoying -- if I'm reading a book to be used in a paper, and I want to quote a paragraph, I often have to completely retype the paragraph instead of copy and pasting it because they don't want people to copy the whole book.

Here's a clue: you can limit copy and paste features to small (legal) subsets of the text. Anyone who bothers copying the whole book could have done so with a photocopier as well.

Re:Good (1)

rdnetto (955205) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651482)

I wouldn't be so eager if I were you...

Benefits:
-green
-lighter
-dynamic content

Disadvantages:
-harder (impossible?) to annotate
-can't resell
-DRM - probably only available in a proprietary format for a fixed period of time
-more costly for students & schools (ongoing costs: hardware support + power supply)

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36652464)

Doesn't anyone see the downside to this plan? Where everyone's knowledge-base requires electricity to access and greedy corporations require you to re-purchase a yearly "license" to be able to read a particular text you've already paid for? Knowledge should be for everyone, not just those who can afford to pay money for it.

Cost of Electricity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36651118)

How much will this cost in electricity each year and who is going to foot the bill?

It's possible to learn on a computer (2)

iampiti (1059688) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651124)

In my opinion, the debate is not screens vs paper its distracting environments vs non-distracting. If you try to do serious work/learning and you've got apps open for email,im,facebook etc. you're going to be interrupted every few minutes and each interruption breaks your concentration which is difficult and time consuming to regain later. I even close all distractions when I try to concentrate at work (the most important is email). So, it's possible to learn using a computer you just have to close everything not related to the task at hand.

Re:It's possible to learn on a computer (1)

satuon (1822492) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651332)

Yes, and Linux has a strength here - you can remove the browser from the OS. One employer who moved to Linux had productivity go up after he removed the browser from the computers of clerks who didn't need to surf the web (but who might have needed to use network printers and email).

Re:It's possible to learn on a computer (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#36652072)

If they don't need access to the Internet, then their computers should be blocked by the firewall, not by the lack of a browser. You don't need access outside the local network for email or network printers, you just need to be able to connect to the print and mail servers.

Re:It's possible to learn on a computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36652574)

--dport 80 -j DROP

But I'm sure it was way cheaper to migrate every desktop to Linux and uninstall browsers rather than keeping it on the server where it succeeds.

Sounds like a Linux blowhard with a solution in search of a problem.

New excuse (3, Funny)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651128)

I did not do my homework because my batteries ran out.

Re:New excuse (1)

dolmen.fr (583400) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651320)

I did not do my homework because my tablet has been stolen.

Re:New excuse (4, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651342)

I did not do my homework because the publisher revoked a book that I foolishly thought that I owned.

Re:New excuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36654098)

Yeah. If you thought you can "own" information, you're definitely a fool.

And the "publisher" (What's a publisher? Something from the past?) will find out how much of a fool he is, when you pull the unencrypted file from one of your peers, like a grown-up.

Re:New excuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36654846)

While that's a possibility, the optimist in me is hoping that open/free courseware will develop in time. It might not be as good as current textbooks to begin with, but community efforts (from the Linux kernel to Wikipedia) show what we can produce for "free" consumption.

When a grade school, high school, or university curriculum can be taught without the students (or tax payers...) having to fork over money year after year for textbooks, it removes one more middle-man job from our society and makes us all more efficient.

Re:New excuse (2)

gsslay (807818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36653584)

I did not do my homework because stuffing my tablet into my school bag, kicking it along the corridor, striking my fellow students with it and having it hurled from the school bus window, broke it.

This never happened with previous books.

I think it also has a virus.

Re:New excuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36651456)

I did not do my homework because windows was installing updates.

Cartelized education (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651138)

This is why you get pedagogical experiments being carried out in a wholesale manner, rather than innovation in education being driven by diversity and competition.

Re:Cartelized education (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651356)

Big words, small view. Diversity and competition are doing just fine in the international market, rather than inside isolated states.

Hopeful (2)

edcs (1931354) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651230)

I used an ebook version of my history text book last year, and it worked relatively well. Other than a few formatting issues, I found it pretty easy to highlight things and make notes on my kindle. The only problem was that since it didn't retain the page numbers of the print edition it was next to impossible to reference in essays (in the end I had to use Google Books find the location of quotes in the print edition), but if they lean into this properly then they'll probably be more open to adapting the current referencing systems to be more up to date.

Re:Hopeful (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651348)

The only problem was that since it didn't retain the page numbers of the print edition it was next to impossible to reference in essays

It's impossible to omit the page number and provide a chapter number? Are you using an app to structure your essays, too?

Re:Hopeful (1)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651384)

i find ebooks to be much more cumbersome than printed ones. i prefer ebooks as reference material, of course. but actually learning about a new subject is (for me) much easier with proper books i can hold, fold, throw around, and write on with a pencil. imo, the best way would be to somehow make printed books searchable.

Re:Hopeful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36651484)

> and write on with a pencil.

The real question is why ebook readers (software) are so brain damaged that they don't allow this basic functionality. It would be trivially simple to save the annotations as PNG, ZRLE or something in a database along with the PDF/EPUB/whatever, that it just seems the developers of reader software are retarded. I had to get Acrobat Professional just so I could write simple scribbles and annotations on MY copy of the document, and even then some documents are "SECURED", and it won't let me alter them, despite them being MINE.

Even more retarded is that I can't just edit or write on the HTML documents as they appear in my browser, I have to save them and open them in a separate editor, because no one in the history of the web thought of the mind numbingly obvious idea to just let you edit the text in front of you. I'm not talking about changing the web page as it appears to others, just editing MY copy of it that the server has sent me. I mean seriously.

This sick idea that Americans have that information can belong to someone even after they've sold or given it away is just fucked, and probably the cause of everything wrong with computers today.

Re:Hopeful (1)

Sinthet (2081954) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651546)

I agree. If the current "ebook" format doesn't allow for scribbling on top of it, it's just laziness. I can't imagine it would be too difficult to implement something like layers in GIMP or photoshop, and just leave the top one open to editing. Then again, most ebooks cover the entirety of the screen, so you may have to zoom out to have enough room to write anything.

Re:Hopeful (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#36652110)

My eBook reader is an iRex iLiad. It has a built in Wacom tablet and allows you to draw on PDFs. Each page of doodles is saved as a PNG and you can merge them with the original PDF with some software on the computer (or just discard them). iRex went bankrupt, so the intersection of the people wanting this feature and the people willing to pay for it is apparently quite small.

Oh, and the ability to edit web pages and even the integration of a web server in the browser was one of the original design goals of the web. Somehow it got lost in the rush to turn web users into consumers.

Re:Hopeful (1)

Shoe Puppet (1557239) | more than 2 years ago | (#36653344)

I had to get Acrobat Professional just so I could write simple scribbles and annotations on MY copy of the document, and even then some documents are "SECURED", and it won't let me alter them, despite them being MINE.

The software you're using is to expensive. With Okular you can add notes and in its preferences dialog it has a checkbox à la "ignore DRM". It's note-taking functionality might be a bit limited, though.

Re:Hopeful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36653040)

Open two books at the same time.

Re:Hopeful (1)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 2 years ago | (#36653774)

how could i have overlooked this?? ok folks, you simply CAN'T replace books with ebooks. when i am studying, reading about something or even solving problems, i have at least two (often more) books open and usually the laptop is also displaying related info (although it would be kept at a further distance than the books).

Anyone thought of the enviroment costs.. (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651252)

... or having millions of netbooks or pads requiring constant charging compared to a book which requires - none.

Re:Anyone thought of the enviroment costs.. (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651338)

The environmental cost of that fancy, glossy paper is enormous, and textbooks are reprinted every few years either for political reasons or simply to keep the pocketbooks of the publishers padded.

Re:Anyone thought of the enviroment costs.. (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651662)

The cost of mining the metals and recovering the oil to build a netbook will be orders of magnitude more enviromentally damaging than simply pulping wood to make a book. Not forgetting than most paper comes from managed woodland which absorbs CO2 as it grows anyway and is replanted.

Re:Anyone thought of the enviroment costs.. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651866)

Most timber for paper is clear-cut, leading to soil loss among other problems. This can be done a finite number of times before the only thing you can grow is pines. You can only do it with pines so long before you end up with soil that will only sustain a small handful of plants that can handle highly acidic conditions... or on bare rock, because of the soil loss.

Re:Anyone thought of the enviroment costs.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36653582)

but how many times do you need to purchase e-books? How long do they last under school conditions? My books got pretty scuffed up after 1 year. How long before the technology gets updated too? I somehow doubt it would be more than 4-5 year life span.

Re:Anyone thought of the enviroment costs.. (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651396)

If the students would have the same devices anyhow, probably negligible. If it's e-ink, also negligible. If neither, then it will come at a cost.

But imagine if all newspapers/magazines/etc were now delivered digitally. What a savings in gas, ink, and paper! Plus recycling is energy intensive too.

But yeah, I agree, this should be quantified.

Re:Anyone thought of the enviroment costs.. (2)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651726)

If the devices are intended to be used for something like 10 years then you might have a point. But lets be honest - they'll be "out of date" in 3 or 4 years and will be replaced.

Evolution (1)

pmontra (738736) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651278)

Textbooks (and books in general) evolved to the current set of form factors. We can think of them as some local maxima of the convenience vs effectiveness vs weight (vs other factors) tradeoff function. A digital reader changes something (weight, batteries, readability of the screen vs paper, etc) but the size of the page is still important especially if you have lots of pictures to show, which is common in textbooks. It will be a challenge for everybody to match in a few years (even counting the past) what's the results of thousand of years of research and adaptation to industry and customers needs. And don't forget the ease and immediacy of annotating a paper book with a pencil and reading those notes afterward. On the other side I think of how many times I wanted to grep a university textbook (didn't know of grep before then, I'm that old).

Not so sure about this... (1)

Sinthet (2081954) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651524)

I always thought digitalizing my schoolwork would make me more productive, since I spend tons of time on my laptop anyway, it removes the necessity to lug around large bags filled with books, and it seems like it could be made cheaper.

However, I doubt I could focus on schoolwork when a million more exciting and enticing uses for the machine are available. I already have a class where I have to complete homework over the Internet, and its certainly not any easier than on paper. If anything, I'm just more tempted to open a new tab and read the latest slashdot post. Maybe its just a transitional thing.

My other concern is that it'd be wasting perfectly good technology. These devices will have to be locked down so that students don't goof around on their tablets rather than stick with the program. However, you're basically taking a perfectly good computer, capable of performing multiple functions, and limiting it to just one. I'm sure someone, somewhere, will root these things, but thats besides the point.

I think a better approach would be to simply let the students decide on an individual level whether or not they want paper books. If they want to go digital, they should be allowed to, and I believe within a few years we'll be left with a decent dataset which can more effectively gage how digital books effect learning, if at all.

lucky (-1)

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Age-old debate? (1)

antonyb (913324) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651632)

"This move also re-ignites the age-old debate about whether or not students learn better from screens or printed material"

I think Aristotle first raised this question; several thousand years later Descartes weighed in too, but he was a luddite.

There are more important issues (1)

devent (1627873) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651778)

There are more important issues, like do the pupils need to buy all iPads now? Do they need to buy e-book-reader from only one vendor? Can they lend the books to classmates? Do they need to buy the e-Books but can't give them later to their brothers/sisters/cousins?

If S-Korea would do it right they would get the books as DRM free PDF or Pub files, nationwide, with the explicit right to copy the books and share it for free with other (future) S-Korean pupils, where the publishers are only paid for updates on the books. If the publishers don't like it, the S-Korea government is a very big customer, I think they will find a publisher under such terms.

That would do a government that actually wants to benefit from digital books. But I think they will just get one publisher, DRMed e-books and only one e-book-reader vendor.

Re:There are more important issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36654132)

Is it good for eyes(kids) especially this Ipad with TFT screens.

Industrial lobby in action (1)

stoev (103408) | more than 2 years ago | (#36651890)

The question is not only about children, green... etc. Korea is one of the main producers of LCD and related technologies. The company Saaamsooong ;-) is practicaly governing the country and they need reliable buyers of their tech to ramp up the volumes. Check who will be the main supplier of the tech and who will profit most from government money.

It's a Samsung subsidy (1)

shikaisi (1816846) | more than 2 years ago | (#36652092)

You can bet your bottom dollar these will not be iPads. It looks to me like a piece of South Korean government pork to try and provide Samsung with sufficient user base to reach economies of scale where they have a chance of competing with Apple in the global market.

Re:It's a Samsung subsidy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36652286)

Exactly, ever tried to find an Apple Store in Seoul ? Or see people with iPhone in the streets ?
Or people driving ANYTHING but a korean car (Hyunday/Samsung/... whatever) ?
These people are fanatics, their government teaches them from school days that they HAVE to buy Korea, that Japan is EVIL, ...
See what happened with Apple and Samsung case ?
Do you seriously believe younger people should continue to complain about what Japan or any country did during WWII ?
Do you see many Europeans demonstrating against Germany's acts of war during WWII ?
There's a time where people should look forward and stop blaming their misfortune on the past.
Korea's economy is terrible but they still try to put on the blame on other countries, go figure...

Very convenient (1)

paiute (550198) | more than 2 years ago | (#36652138)

Now the Ministry of Plenty only has to do one find on "decreased rations" and one replace with "increased rations".

some instructors / professors get a part of cost (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#36653226)

some instructors / professors get a part of cost of the books they write some to point of checking books in class to see that they are new and not old used ones.

By LAW DRM can not block screen readers and E-book (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#36653266)

By LAW DRM can not block screen readers and E-books can also make big print / zooming at lot easier then with the old textbooks.

Florida too (1)

microcars (708223) | more than 2 years ago | (#36653396)

but not 100% yet.
Apparently Florida voted to require 50% of their textbook budgets on digital materials by 2015: LINK [tbo.com]

I personally don't think that "digital textbooks" have to look and feel like "printed textbooks."
Why does it have to be a replication of a printed book?

Well (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36653828)

You realize how easy it will be to change the content of textbooks, with just a simple button. Any government that does not want something can simply change the e-book in the next update. Books have a permanence that e-books do not. Imagine if the Church had access to the Principia, or The Origin of Species

Propaganda (1)

LordAzuzu (1701760) | more than 2 years ago | (#36654704)

Am I being paranoid or...
Being "files" and not printed paper... they could change it's content easily....
In the years being story could be modified...

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