SEOUL, June 8 (Yonhap) -- Artificial intelligence (AI)-powered digital textbooks will be introduced in local elementary and secondary schools, beginning in 2025, in response to the growing need for varied learning content, the Ministry of Education said Thursday.
AI digital textbooks have been pushed as part of the government's digital education innovation to offer diverse learning content through expanded virtual world (metaverse) and interactive AI technologies. The use of digital textbooks is also expected to make possible customized learning for individual students at different learning levels, the ministry said.
The ministry said third- and fourth-grade elementary school students, and middle and high school freshmen will be the first beneficiaries of the digitally customized textbooks to be initially used for mathematics, English and informatics from 2025.
In 2026, digital textbooks will be additionally available for fifth and sixth graders in elementary schools and middle school second graders, while four more subjects -- Korean language, social studies, science and technology, and home economics -- will undergo a digital transformation. The following year, middle school third graders will be offered digital textbooks.
By subject, digital textbooks will be additionally introduced in history in 2027, and high schools' common Korean language, social studies, science and Korean history in 2028, the ministry noted.
In other words, digital textbooks will be applied to all subjects from 2028, except for activity-based ones, such as music, art and physical education, and ethics, where face-to-face education is important for humanity cultivation.
By grade, elementary school first and second graders will be excluded from the use of digital textbooks, as they are deemed too young to come into contact with digital devices.
The ministry said AI digital textbooks will be capable of recommending basic learning tasks, such as understanding of basic concepts, for "slow learners" and in-depth learning tasks, such as discussions and essay writing, for "fast learners."
It also noted the introduction of digital textbooks does not mean the disappearance of paper textbooks from schools.
"Paper and digital textbooks will be used together in schools for the time being until all students, parents and teachers will be able to skillfully use AI digital textbooks and achieve the desired educational effects," a ministry official said.
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