Tablets in SA classes could replace books

2012-10-19 14:49
Tablets could replace school text books. (AP)

Tablets could replace school text books. (AP)

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Cape Town – Tablets might be the answer to the recent textbook crisis in Limpopo that showed access to information is a key obstacle to the raising standard of education in South Africa.

According to Wesley Lynch, chief executive officer of Realmdigital, the primary reason why schools in a developing country should embrace tablets is because the digital device offers someone the opportunity to give them the information you would have given in a textbook.

“Tablets are not just a replacement for textbooks, it is in many ways a gateway to an entire access of human knowledge and the internet. And in many cases for an equivalent price,” he told News24.

Realmdigital is a South African e-business strategy and technology partner, specialising in internet and mobile platforms.

Lynch said instead of buying textbooks for three years, you can buy a tablet and acquire all those textbooks in digital form for the same costs as you would over those years.

Challenges

He said they are working with stakeholders that are supplying content and with academic publishers like Unisa to see how they can engage to help package their content in a structure.

But there are many challenges because they need to adhere to certain curriculum standards.

Lynch said the fact that there is a textbook crisis shows the depth of inadequacy.

iPads are admittedly not the best solution for state schools, but there are Android alternatives that cost half the price of Apple’s products, and must therefore be considered candidates for a government-subsidised distribution model.

In schools that don’t qualify for subsidies, due to a legacy of privilege, another possibility is for learners to bring their own tablets to school. These can be integrated into the school’s network and custom app ‘store’.  Private ownership is already becoming more attainable, some cellular contracts offer a tablet along with a handset, at a low premium.

But, even these mechanisms leave tablets out of reach for many poor sections of society, and state subsidies would be stretched to spread the tablet effect far and wide.

However, there is evidence to suggest tablets with pre-loaded content are more cost-effective than sourcing printing course material. But the best news of all is that for approximately R1 000, schools can buy an Android experience that compares satisfactorily to higher end models.


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