The Year 2015: Fewer Hoverboards, More Tablets

The year 2015 is coming—no doubt about it. It’ll be dissimilar to what most of us had in mind, but it’s on the way nonetheless. Provided we’re all still kicking after December 21, 2012, we’d better be ready for some serious changes in the way technology informs our everyday lives.

One such change has to do with everyone’s favorite futuristic toy…

...No, not hoverboards.

I’m talking about tablet computers!

“But what exactly do tablets have to do with the year 2015 if they’re already wildly popular now?” you’re probably wondering.

Well, get this:

Just recently, South Korea’s own Ministry of Education, Science and Technology announced that the nation’s primary schools (the overseas equivalent of elementary schools in the U.S.) will begin phasing out traditional paper textbooks in favor of digital ones—in tablet form, to be exact. They expect the transition to be complete by 2015.

Pictured: A textbook.

That’s right! By 2015, South Korean elementary schools will be optimized to give students a fully streamlined educational experience. The announcement is sure to spark debate among members of the leading education systems in other areas of the world as to how beneficial it really is to make tablets a permanent fixture in classrooms.

According to a Korean daily news publication:

“The ministry plans to provide free tablet PCs for students from low-income families. ‘It will be up to schools to decide which digital textbooks to choose for students in what year in what subject,’ a ministry official said. ‘We don’t expect the shift to digital textbooks to be difficult as students today are very accustomed to the digital environment.’”

The potential for tablets to enhance the learning experience of youngsters has always been evident, but South Korea’s nationwide initiative (reportedly costing upwards of $2 billion) confirms that what was once a mere notion may become a reality in only a few short years. It’s quite a leap forward, really.

In a way, it’s not exactly that big a surprise. Year after year, statistics tout South Korea as having one of the best educational systems in the entire world. The fact that they’re putting this much effort into advancing their schools is practically a call to action to nations still hesitant to get their schools on the digital bandwagon.

Won't be needing THESE anymore!

A single digital textbook could be updated instantaneously with new information and educational material (on any number of subjects), eliminating the need for parents to purchase new paper-based textbooks for their children each consecutive school term. That’s something any parent can appreciate.

Perhaps one day, when budgetary constraints are no longer an issue, education administrators will push for similar enhancements to classrooms in the U.S.

One day.

But what are YOUR thoughts on the development? Is it too much technology, too early? Or is this the kind of practical application of modern technology that the world has been waiting for?

Images by: tom_tans, Phantom Leap, and watcharakun

Joseph Giorgi

Joseph is the head of the Media Team at Quality Logo Products. He's a video specialist, blogger, perfectionist, and all-around likeable guy. When he's not busy focusing on the nitty-gritty details of his written and visual work, he's normally listening to bad 80s music and scouring the internet for useless information on useless subjects. You can also connect with Joe on Google+.


  1. Rachel

    This sounds awesome! No more carrying heavy books around at school? Always a plus. 🙂 I can see some drawbacks, though–for example, what if you break your tablet? It’d be a lot more costly, I’d think, to replace a tablet and ALL your digital textbooks than if you lost one textbook and needed to borrow from a friend until you got a new one. Lots of interesting things to think about.

    I also wonder what the textbook companies think of this. If students don’t have to buy textbooks every year, and new information can be automatically uploaded to the tablets–are textbooks companies going to charge really high prices for the updates? If this trend becomes more widespread, I don’t see how else they could keep making the money they do now, since I’m assuming much of their revenue comes from students buying new editions that can cost more than $100 apiece. (I know we’re talking about elementary school kids here, but I’m assuming the digital textbook mandate would eventually venture into college/university territory.)

    As I said, a lot of interesting consequences to think about here–both for consumers and for companies. Thanks for the great post, Joe!

    • Joseph Giorgi

      Thank YOU for a great response, Rachel! 🙂

      I never thought about how costly it would be if a student were to break a tablet. I wonder if schools would hold the students accountable to replace such expensive, high-end equipment. Worst case scenario, they’d have to buy a new tablet. I doubt they’d have to pay for new digital textbooks though. The schools or the students would likely have access to some kind of online account to download books — that way, they’d be able to download lost textbooks again onto a new device (at no extra cost) in the event that their first device breaks.

      You’re probably right about textbook companies charging for downloadable updates. Just goes with the territory, I suppose. They’ve got to make their money somehow. Of course, it’s the same principle as forcing students to buy newer editions of traditional textbooks, only now they’ll be in digital form.

      And yes, this will no doubt extend to the high school and university levels at some point, though that’s probably much further down the road. Can’t wait to see the impact that tablets eventually have in U.S. schools. Then again, most of our school systems won’t be able to afford such advancements for quite some time.

      • Jill Tooley

        I’m with Rachel – it’s kind of inevitable that someone will break a tablet at the ripe old age of 8. Schools are going to have to charge the parents for replacements…I can’t imagine them having the funding to purchase new ones every time a child is careless. Furthermore, even if this did become the standard, I don’t think I’d be willing to purchase a $500 device for my kid to lug around! How many kids do you think are going to get mugged on the way home from school because of these things? How many kids are going to toss them under their desks and not care what happens to them? It’s convenient and cool to use tablets this way, but it also brings up some bigger concerns.

        Man, the future is scary.

        • Jill Tooley

          Oh, and by the way, I’d take a pair of self-lacing sneakers and a Pit Bull over a freakin’ tablet computer ANY DAY OF THE WEEK! 😉

  2. JPorretto

    Books? Where we’re going we don’t need books! (Or roads…=] )

    I absolutely would have murdered someone to have this as an option in school. For someone who *ahem* didn’t exactly use the books all that often, it would have been amazing to not have 7,000 of them sitting around collecting dust.

    • Joseph Giorgi

      “Where we’re going we don’t need books!”

      Nicely done. I got a kick out of that. 🙂

      And I hear ya — tablets would have reduced a whole lot of textbook clutter when I was in college. I envy future generations.

      • Jen

        I just pictured baby Jeff murdering someone. Bwahahaha!

  3. Vern-Matic

    I love the idea of making the books digital, but at the same time I don’t think this is practical where low income families are given tablets. Now this is me thinking the worse of humanity but I can just see parents pawning their kids iPads what kind of deterrent would be set in place to stop this? You can’t have the kids turn them in at the end of the day due to them needing to complete homework. Only allowing this in richer school systems puts poorer school systems at a disadvantage. Granted I don’t know the culture of South Korea, but it just doesn’t seem practical for all “primary” school systems.

    Has anyone noticed that in Star Trek: The Next Generation they are using tablets??? I mean it is the 24th century, humanity has conquered space travel (thanks to the Vulcans) but we haven’t updated tablet technology!?!?

    • Joseph Giorgi

      Excellent point, Vernon. The schools would most likely be responsible for distributing tablets to students of low-income families, and I’d imagine that the students would be required to turn their tablets in at the end of the school year/term in order to avoid being charged for the device. Of course, this is just me guessing. I haven’t looked into the specifics of the new ordinance, but it would make sense for schools to go about it that way, otherwise, yeah, families would selling their kids’ tablets like nobody’s business.

      And you’re right: it’s sort of disappointing to think that tablet technology won’t advance at all between the 21st and 24th century.

      • Mandy Kilinskis

        You want to know why the tablet technology doesn’t advance? They clearly make a move from tablet technology to holodeck & holoprogramming technology. Which I am totally okay with.

  4. Cybernetic SAM

    Well, where I went to school I wish we had had the option to download textbooks that were current, that way we would have been taught properly. Our school hardly had enough to go around and the books were all ten-fifteen years out of date. So to have current educational tools would have been marvelous! However, I don’t see that happening too quickly in this country, as our main concern is not education. So to budget a transition like this will take a very long time, unless they burden the middle to lower class parents to spend their money on such items. By the time the American school systems make this transition there will already be a different technology at hand, putting us behind again. In the college respect I think this great; I remember almost all of my money (and a lot of it) went to ridiculously over priced books. So if we are going to have to spend this money, might as well do it as economically as possible.

    • Joseph Giorgi

      Yup, it’s going to be a long time indeed before schools in the U.S. make the jump to tablet-based textbooks. Such a shame. 🙁

      “By the time the American school systems make this transition there will already be a different technology at hand…”

      True, but look at it this way: by observing how South Korea’s new ordinance pans out, our school systems here will have a better idea of whether tablet technology is the right way to go. If a cheaper form of personalized tech is available in the next few years that’s more affordable for classroom environments, we’ll be all over it.

    • Amanda

      Nice point Sam. Our schools got new books every few years, and that was normal I suppose. So they books weren’t terribly old, but could have been more current in an ideal situation. It would be nice for all students to have very updated information all the time. Hopefully the cost will go down by 2015 so this is more of an option for many countries.

  5. amy

    I personally am 100% in support of this, I hated buying textbooks for classes every term in college since they were so expensive. Then I started to rent them and couldn’t keep them after the term ended (unless I wanted to buy them, which defeated the purpose of renting).

    I’m surprised to read though that South Korea is starting this with children in elementary schools! Wow, talk about starting young. When I think back to my elementary school days, I don’t think I’d trust myself as a fourth grader with a tablet that costs upwards of $500.

    • Joseph Giorgi

      “I’m surprised to read though that South Korea is starting this with children in elementary schools! Wow, talk about starting young.”

      Yeah, it’s a bit surprising, but at the same time, it’s probably the best thing that the country can do for its youth. Technology is the future, and the sooner that youngsters get acquainted with it, the better.

      I agree though: I wouldn’t trust myself with such expensive equipment if I were still in grade school. I have enough trouble not dropping my cell phone on a daily basis. A tablet is something I’d keep safely at home. I wouldn’t want to haul it around every day.

  6. Amanda

    Super blog post topic Joe! =) This gets everyone thinking for sure!

    I’m not sure how I feel about all this just yet. I think that elementary aged kids are just too careless to be accountable for that kind of equipment. A book can take lots of abuse like being dropped, spilled on, stepped on, etc. But a tablet can not. I think it makes more sense to get this technology into high school and colleges first–at least those would be handled with more care. I do, however, like the fact that there will be more updates available–so that kids will be learning very current information, and that the whole tablet won’t have to be replaced with each edition, like it is with textbooks now. And it would be super convenient to have to carry only the tablet instead of 4-5 books. But I’m just not sure about it yet. I do like that you pointed out that by South Korea offering this first, we can at least see what happens, and learn from their experiences. Although, by 2015….I may feel different. Hopefully by then they will be affordable. I’d be more for it then I suppose.

    • Joseph Giorgi

      I agree. I doubt that most kids would take very good care of their tablets. An initiative like this would definitely make more sense at a high school or college level. In time, I’m sure it’ll get there.

    • Jen

      I completely agree with Amanda. I couldn’t keep a book in good shape though-out the year when I was in grade school. I can’t tell you how many books my poor parents had to purchase at the end of each year due to my irresponsibility. Can you imagine the cost for a new tablet each year?

      Maybe a way around it would be to let kids only use it in school, and work out a system for after/before school programs for homework. This way the kids will be monitored by someone when using it all the time.

  7. Kyle

    Very interesting post, Joe. I feel that the pros would definitely outweigh the cons in this situation, but the only major issue I see is cost. Of course tablet prices will be much lower in 2015, but it still has to cost a fortune to supply them to all of those students.

    My question is, why not laptops? You can get a better laptop for the price and having a keyboard for note-taking and such is a huge benefit. Maybe tablets appeal to students due to their accessibility? That’s my only thought, but I feel that the versatility of a laptop outweighs the accessibility of a tablet. Or maybe I’m just hesitant to jump on the tablet bandwagon just yet. Heck, for all I know by 2015 there will be something newer/better/faster to replace both laptops and tablets.

    Either way, I feel that going digital is definitely the right direction for education. Having that much information at your fingertips can be a great learning tool. This post definitely got my gears turning. Great stuff!

    • Joseph Giorgi

      Thanks, man!

      I’m with ya on the notion that laptops and traditional PCs are far superior to tablets. I won’t be a tablet owner anytime soon — that’s for sure. However, as you mentioned, tablets definitely have the upper hand in terms of accessibility and ease of use, which is probably why South Korean schools are opting for tablets instead of laptops; there’s less of a learning curve attached to tablets.

    • Amanda

      I agree Kyle–Laptops would be a better idea. And yes, in 2015, we might all feel different. The keyboard would be so beneficial for note taking! =) And they’re more durable it seems, and cheaper for sure! Great idea.

  8. JPorretto

    I don’t think cost will be as big of factor as many think. If you want an iPad, then sure it will be $500. But a reader just for textbooks can be done for much, much less. A full size color touch screen Nook is $249. A more streamlined version could easily be made for less for schools.

    In fact, The Tribune Company has plans to offer FREE tablets to it’s long-term subscribers in the near future…

    • Amanda

      I see what you’re saying Jeff. That’s a great point–much more realistic to just have tablet e-readers. 😉 I’d be much more in support of this.

  9. Mandy Kilinskis

    I know that everyone seems to be talking about kids breaking those tablets, but I bet that for $2 billion, they can engineer sturdier cases & screens. Not saying that it will be able to be run over with a car, but I’m sure they are taking the age factor into account.

    What I have learned from this article and the comments is that companies spent too much time on tablets and not enough on hoverboards. Come on, Mattel! You’re selling less and less Barbies every year — time to make that switch to hoverboards.

    • Joseph Giorgi

      Great point! Seeing as how this is such a costly investment for South Korea, I’d imagine that they have measures in place to discourage or prevent the inevitable wear and tear that some of those tablets will encounter.

      And yes, Mattel needs to get on that hoverboard technology, like, NOW!

  10. Lauren G.

    Great post, Joe! 🙂 This really has the wheels in my head turning. A suggestion for South Korea…Kindles! As some of my friends know, I could work for Amazon and sell these things. I sold one to a dear friend whose excuse was, “Good! More books for me! And they’ll be cheaper.” ….Sam. 🙂 I do believe she has one…and loves it. LOL! I absolutely LOVE my Kindle. (Thanks to QLP’s IT guy, Josh. It was my birthday present last year) 🙂 A. It’s easier to read B. They’re awesome! C. More affordable and D. Has all of the things needed for classroom use. The “tablet” I’m sure has all of those fancy things on it, like games, internet, etc. The Kindle does have that, but it doesn’t just come with it. These are things you have to pay for, download, etc., making it more difficult to access at school. My concern also to would be if it did get broken. Who would be responsible for replacing it? Kids will be kids unfortunately.

    Sidnote: I wish I had this for college! I agree with Sam. I put so much money into books it was ungodly! Coming from a highschool, like Sam, where the books were ancient, to going to college at a private university, the books caused me to be the stereotypical “poor college kid.” I do think this is a fantastic idea though! I think this would spike kids’ learning and intrigue them to keep up with their studies. As always, this sort of thing is a double edged sword. It has its good and bad features. Either way it can’t hurt to give it a shot and prove everyone wrong! Rock on, South Korea! We Americans will catch up with you in 150 years! 🙂

  11. Lauren G.

    Forgot to add: Yes, Mattel just needs to give up Barbies. They’re so outdated. I had a few to satisfy my friends’ play dates, but I’d much rather have had a hover board!! Let’s do this!

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