12 publishers to push tablets for classrooms

by Hiroki Noda

Kyodo

In a move toward full-scale digitization of education, 12 textbook publishers plan to develop a common platform for using tablet devices in classrooms.

With the help of Hitachi Solutions Ltd., the 12 companies want as many schools as possible to be able to use tablets along with conventional textbooks in spring 2015.

“We have decided to join forces in the field of digitization because it’s just too hard for one company to meet the various needs of schools,” Mitsumura Tosho Publishing Co. President Hiroshi Tokida said Thursday.

“We will continue to improve the quality of printed materials while trying to combine them with digital materials,” said Tokida, who heads the 12-party consortium.

The government hopes that all students will be equipped with tablet PCs as a way to enhance learning by the end of 2019.

In March last year, around 23 percent of elementary, junior high and high schools were using some type of digital device, according to the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry.

But many of them have complained about the different formats used by textbook publishers and the different operating systems that must be used.

The textbook consortium, called CoNETS (Connecting to the Next Education for Teachers and Students), is aimed at resolving these problems and simplifying the gadgets.