Apple’s iPad and other tablet computers are replacing traditional note pads in some Asian schools and making the lives of thousands of students a whole lot easier. Soon pupils could be reading on their tablets about a quaint old communication device called “paper”, especially in Asia’s advanced economies where many schools are racing towards a paperless classroom.
The slim glass slabs slip easily into a bag and can store thousands of textbooks, making a fat school bag full of heavy books, pens and note pads a thing of the past. “I like the iPad because it is portable and we do not have to carry so many bags and files around,” said 13-year-old Nicole Ong, who now makes notes on her iPad during class at Nanyang Girls’ High School in Singapore. A sample group of more than 120 students and 16 teachers at the school have been given iPads, at a cost of over US$100,000. By 2013, every student in the school will have one. The number of software applications — or apps — that can be used for educational purposes on tablet computers is set to explode.
It’s a brand new business that even media mogul Rupert Murdoch has identified as an area of huge potential growth. Murdoch said his News Corp Group is to push into the education technology market in a speech to the e-G8 conference of Internet entrepreneurs and European policymakers in Paris last month. He described education as the “last holdout from the digital revolution” and outlined a vision for personalised learning with lessons delivered by the world’s best teachers to thousands of students via the Internet. “Today’s classroom looks almost exactly the same as it did in the Victorian age,” Murdoch added. But many Asian schools are already way ahead of the game. “No longer is language learning solely based on the teacher commenting on students’ works — classmates can feedback on one another,” said Seah Hui Yong, curriculum dean of Nanyang.