Going Digital in Education

Lubang Island gets WiFi and XO laptops

Luistro said that distributing laptops may even solve the textbook problem.

“We have to print 95 million textbooks and make sure they are error-free. What if we just upload them on the Internet. We will save trees. Students would no longer need to carry heavy bags. We would just have a little laptop in which pupils can store book chapters,” Luistro said

Trial run of PC tablets in Laguna

…trial run of 1,000 PC tablets to be distributed to freshmen of the University of the Philippines Rural High School and one public high school in each of the four congressional districts of Laguna. It’s a project of the Department of Education. Neil Nocon, education committee chair for the province, likened the tablet, dubbed the “Rizal Tablet” after the province’s favorite hero and harbinger of enlightenment, to the Ipad and Kindle. It can be preloaded with textbooks and other reading materials, saving the kids and the community a fortune in their cost. It was in keeping with Education Secretary Armin Luistro’s vision of a “bookless society” within our lifetime.

Transitioning Education to eText

We are left with an eBook trend that could reduce vast amounts of water, energy and waste but could also make education more affordable for hundreds of thousands of students that struggle meeting monetary ends of the growing cost of education. The market is bigger still when we consider elementary schools and high schools, both of which utilize textbooks as teaching aids. This kind of reduction could lower the line items in public school costs that are always finding budgets strapped for every penny. It would also be an easy way for private institutions and municipalities to talk up sustainability efforts while costing them nothing. Politicians can’t hope for plans much better than that.

Android tablets in Manila (Courtesy: yugatech)

Heard from a source familiar to the project that St. Paul College in Pasig is in the process of acquiring 5,000 units of Android tablets for its students which will replace most of the textbooks.

Apparently, the tablet project will eventually replace the books being used by the school for its students. The transition will happen in the next school year.

Several suppliers were invited for the bidding — Apple, RedFox, Archos, Acer and Toshiba, among others. St. Paul has some requirements in the hardware, operating system (Android 2.2 Froyo) and of course pricing.

It’s a relatively huge project, considering it’s for 5,000 units. I am told this is just an initial roll-out which will probably be for high-school students of the Pasig branch for the meantime. The cost of the tablets will be added into the tuition fees of the students. That should offset the cost of textbooks which goes for tens of thousands per year.

St. Paul will be doing some testing and development, which may include apps for research and other teaching tools the students can use. Of course, there’ll be provisions for security and parental control.

If the tablet will last for about 2 to 3 years, it might turn out cheaper than the actual books. Now that’s what I’d call one-tablet-per-student program!

Update: Have talked to several people who are familiar with the project. Turns out several other schools are doing something similar. St. Scholastica and de la Salle GreenHills are also looking into the tablet solution.

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