Schools set to offer etextbooks next year in Shanghai

by Zhao Wen
BEIJING, Nov. 30 — About 1,500 different e-textbooks will be ready by April and available to all students in primary, middle and high schools next September, education officials said yesterday.

E-textbooks are part of the pilot e-schoolbag program the city started in 2011. The program is seen as a step in reducing the number of heavy books students have to carry to and from school since tablet computers will replace textbooks.

Ni Minjing, director of the basic education department with the Shanghai Education Commission, said students can choose to use textbooks or a combination of textbooks and e-textbooks.

Shanghai is also building a cloud-computing platform for open education. After completion, both teachers and students will be able to download e-textbooks as needed.

Zhu Zhiting, a professor with East China Normal University who leads the e-schoolbag program, said the standards for e-textbooks will be released in three months.

The program is now being tested in select schools and will cover all public schools by 2015.

E-schoolbag has been controversial since it was unveiled as some parents worry the tablets will damage their children’s eyesight and distract them from studying.

Zhu said the program promotes balanced education.

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