Korea to adopt AI textbooks for core subjects starting in 2025

Posted on : 2023-02-24 17:28 KST Modified on : 2023-02-24 17:28 KST
The ministry has already confirmed that the digital textbooks will be used for the subjects of math, English and IT, with the possibility of more to come
Minister of Education Lee Ju-ho announces the ministry’s vision for digital education initiatives at an event held at the Sejong Convention Center on Feb. 22. (Yonhap)
Minister of Education Lee Ju-ho announces the ministry’s vision for digital education initiatives at an event held at the Sejong Convention Center on Feb. 22. (Yonhap)

Beginning in 2025, math, English and IT will be taught with digital textbooks enhanced with artificial intelligence (AI) at Korean elementary, middle and high schools.

The initiative is part of a plan for “digital-based education innovation” announced at the Seoul government complex on Thursday by Education Minister Lee Ju-ho, who also serves as Korea’s deputy minister for social affairs.

The AI-powered digital textbooks mentioned in the initiative would be more than digitized versions of standard textbooks — the Education Ministry plans to equip them with the latest technology, including a smart tutoring system, metaverse capabilities and conversational AI.

The ministry intends to adopt the digital textbooks in three stages, beginning with new curriculum for the third and fourth grades of elementary school and the first grade of middle school and required courses and general electives in high school in 2025. The program will be extended to the fifth and sixth grades of elementary school and the second grade of middle school in 2026 and then to the third grade of middle school in 2027.

The ministry has already confirmed that the digital textbooks will be used for the subjects of math, English and IT. The finalized list of subjects is expected to be announced in May.

One option being considered by the Education Ministry is to use the digital textbooks alongside standard books for three years so as to minimize confusion in the classroom and then to fully transition in 2028, taking into account program results and teachers’ opinions.

The ministry explained that adopting AI-powered digital textbooks will enable students to participate in a greater variety of classes, including project-based learning and discussions with the teacher about information gleaned from the textbook. The ministry also believes that teachers can use AI to tailor their classes to students’ characteristics through real-time collection and analysis of data about student learning.

The Education Ministry plans to set up a pilot program of 400 teachers this year that can be expanded to 1,500 by 2025 for use in teacher training. In addition, the ministry will select seven municipal and provincial offices of education and have each designate and operate around 40 “digital pilot schools” (with 300 altogether).

The pilot schools will be encouraged to use already developed “edutech” programs and to apply new pedagogical methods not only in the regular curriculum but also in various afterschool programs.

By Lee You-jin, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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