The Korea Herald


[Contribution] AI digital textbooks: Pioneering a new era of education transformation

By Korea Herald

Published : July 19, 2023 - 10:47

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Vice Education Minister Jang Sang-yoon (Ministry of Education) Vice Education Minister Jang Sang-yoon (Ministry of Education)

By Jang Sang-yoon

In our quest to gain new inspirations while preparing for the world’s first nationwide introduction of AI digital textbooks, I embarked on a journey to the British Educational Training and Technology Show 2023, the largest education technology expo worldwide, in March, along with the Ministry of Education press corps. I still can’t forget the sight of a gray-haired senior teacher with his glasses slightly down, passionately explaining the program that he had developed. It made me ask myself, “Who knows best about technology for education?” and “Can edtech really revolutionize the classroom?”

Nestled in the expo hall, there was a meeting area called the Connect Zone, where teachers and school officials could delve into, inquire about and purchase edtech offerings from over 600 private companies. The scene was nothing short of inspiring, as educators and edtech enterprises put their heads together to exchange thoughts on revolutionizing their teaching approaches, actively searching for transformative technologies and displaying strong commitment to understanding the challenges faced by students. In fact, the edtech ecosystem in the UK, which is designed to support schools in utilizing, evaluating and even providing funding to develop suitable technology for education, carries profound implications for our own educational system.

Upon my return, I immediately convened a meeting between textbook publishers and edtech companies. In April, we hosted three exceptional “matching days,” which were so successful that some people said it was like a scaled-down version of the esteemed BETT show. This event presented a golden opportunity to catch a glimpse of what the AI digital textbooks would look like, showcasing the groundbreaking educational innovation achievable through Korean edtech.

Furthermore, as part of our endeavor to make “technology for education” and “personalized education for all” a reality, we have planned to involve user participation in the development process of AI digital textbooks. It is unprecedented for students, who are the primary beneficiaries of educational policies, to directly contribute to designing policy. On July 8, we brought together a diverse range of stakeholders, including students, teachers and parents, for the AI Digital Textbook Design Workshop. This collaborative event served as a platform to gather their valuable perspectives. At present, we are diligently incorporating their insights into the comprehensive development guidelines. Moving forward, developers will make an ongoing effort to actively engage with educational stakeholders, devising strategies to tackle challenges, and forging ahead with the development of AI digital textbooks.

As a matter of fact, user participation is considered a pivotal component in the textbook evaluation process. Following the evaluation stage, teachers and students will continue to actively utilize the AI digital textbooks, evaluating their compatibility with school environments and ensuring their stable operation over a six-month period. The aim is to introduce these textbooks into schools starting from March 2025.

Given that this is the world’s first initiative of its kind, there are no precedents to draw lessons from. The rapid evolution of new AI technologies, ranging from ChatGPT to Bard, indeed poses both opportunities and risks. Thus, it is imperative to conduct a thorough examination to guarantee a stable and effective implementation of this groundbreaking venture. Nevertheless, achieving this goal is not only attainable, but also within our grasp.

Throughout history, from the discovery of fire onward, humanity has consistently demonstrated its ability to manage risks to thrive. I firmly believe that by responsibly and safely integrating advanced technologies like AI into education, we can break ourselves free from the constraints of the “one-size-fits-all” paradigm and actualize “personalized learning for all.” Through the utilization of AI digital textbooks, I envision our schools delivering a truly human-centered education and contributing to bridging the educational divide.

Jang Sang-yoon is the vice minister of the Ministry of Education. Views expressed in this article are his own. -- Ed.