Recently, I read about what seems to be the most solid commitment on the “paperless path.” South Korea announced plans to convert all paper textbooks to a digital format made available to students through school-issued tablets by 2015.

By no means a small-scale project, the education ministry announced that this $2 billion project will help prepare students for how content will be increasingly viewed and utilized in the future—digitally. Beyond the environmental considerations, advantages of “going digital” via tablet technology include keeping up on assignments while away and greater participation and socialization among students and teachers both inside and outside of the classroom.

What’s most interesting about this announcement is recognizing that a device has gained enough public support to allow mass transition to digital.

Since the introduction of tablet devices, growth has been considerable. The appeal of the device lies largely in its mobile ability that doesn’t compromise capability. According to Gartner research from late last year, tablets are expected to see sales of over 54 million in 2011 and more than 208 million by 2014. While stories above show the growth of tablet use in the education space, Forrester cites that half of mobile commerce occurs through tablet use and continues to grow; showing tremendous utilization in the retail space as well.

Even in journalism, tablets are beginning to play a more significant role. Rupert Murdoch’s The Daily, is an iPad exclusive newspaper; just recently the The Philadelphia Inquirer announced that it will sell tablets with preloaded content from the newspaper and its sister sites.

While South Korea may be taking some of the first steps of using tablets for a wide-range “digital transition” in education, I don’t think it will be long till we see more countries and industry-specific markets follow suit.

Image courtesy of ecodallaluna.

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