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Could smart devices solve textbook crisis?

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Use of smart devices like tablets or even smartphones has been mooted as a possible solution to South Africa’s textbook crisis.

Wesley Lynch, CEO of Snapplify, believes that the wholesales roll-out of smart devices cound be the answer.

“iPads and tablets can definitely aid the textbook crisis,” he says. “iPads in particular would probably feature more readily in private or wealthier schools, but Android tablets are more affordable and would provide a more realistic chance of institutions or the government being able to provide tablets to schools in South Africa.”

Lynch says that tablets will provide access to textbooks that have been digitally published as eBooks and educational web applications. “These devices allow for a better and richer experience of the web in a way that perhaps many of the students would have only previously experienced on their mobile phones.

“The potential is there to provide educational apps with multimedia which would help to explain the content in a more comprehensive way – the sciences in particular could benefit immensely,” Lynch says. “Mobile apps, such as Snapplify, have had a good uptake on training and educational material, and mobile means the student can have all his textbooks and notes with him at all times.”

The  biggest issue facing schools wishing to implement smart device technology in their classrooms remains the cost.

“I don’t think we can solve the textbook crisis with technology alone. The cost of the tablet as well as the cost of downloading the information itself is still extremely high,” Jacques du Toit, MD of Vox Orion, warns. “Most rural areas still rely on GSM or 3G – if they have access to Internet connectivity at all.

“If government subsidies the cost of the device as well as the price of the Internet subscription, it could be revolutionary. With technologies such as the Smart board, for example, children in a rural farm schools could “attend” a class that’s being held in the city, and download and review the lesson at a later stage. We’re willing to make concessions to disadvantaged schools as much as we can to make this technology accessible, but broadband costs will have to be subsidised.”

  • Pnutz

    Right so rather than Teachers burning the books… They could just sell them or get them stolen or find many other ways of still not teaching the children. Even in first world countries this has been hard to adopt and even the schools that have tried it out here have learnt that the devices are expensive and as they not in every home they are highly wanted items so exposing children to robberies while at school to collect expensive equipment isn’t an issue for you? How did Tanzania and other African countries without schools or textbooks still do better than our so called ‘priviledged’ children with both schools and textbooks?

    On their Mobile Phones???? Which Africa are you living in? Most mobile phones are not capable of any real Internet browsing and again these people are so poor they can’t afford to clothe and feed properly.

    The ideas are great and yes they would make a difference to the quality of education but first lets get some teachers who actually can and WANT to teach because that makes even more difference and rid the crime issue because all these devices would just be inviting more crime and issues into areas already filled with more issues than they can handle.