Educational gadgets to replace textbooks in 5-10 years, says UAE's biggest school group

UAE schools might totally dump printed textbooks in the near future, according to a senior official of the UAE's biggest private school group.

Dino Varkey, Group COO at Gems Education, believes that in the next five to ten years textbooks will become irrelevant as they will be replaced by the same resources in an online format.

The news comes even as Intel announced the launch of its student-only Android-based “Education Tablet” and Apple announced the expansion of its textbooks project.

Apple which has invested heavily in developing its iBooks platform to aid students and teachers alike have also announced its decision to start selling digital textbooks and expanded to more than 50 countries. Currently iBooks has more than 25,000 educational titles on the iPad.

Intel launched two new products - the new Intel Education Tablet and the Intel Classmate PC - as part of Intel Education Solutions, which includes devices, software, content, services and teacher professional development that the company says will work together to transform learning and teaching for student success.

“What technology is able to do is provide the reach at an unprecedented scale and that’s where it has become very interesting,” says Varkey.

According to him, tablets have changed the way children are taught.

When asked if tablets had indeed replaced textbooks at Gems Schools in the UAE, he said: “We would love to reach to that point but at this point we deliver other people’s national curriculum. And the assessments and exams are still being decided by them. This is one of our constraints while trying to get rid of textbooks.”

While stating that although today’s classrooms have changed, he maintained that it still has not really changed to the extent that we believe it to have changed.

“Today, fundamentally around the world, education is being delivered the same as it was during the industrial revolution, whereas in every other part of the society or structure, things are changing at a much rapid way.”

He however added that the situation is changing fast and will eventually change.

“The idea of text books will become irrelevant soon. The big publishers will perhaps have the vested interests in making sure that textbooks are still produced. But it will be phased out in the developed markets and some parts of the developing markets.”

Education, he concluded, will no longer be defined by what happens at the school or university.

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