New Delhi: For a
generation that has learnt to articulate thoughts in 140
characters and knows its smartphones and tabs, e-textbooks are
only the next step. But some infrastructure bottlenecks need to be
taken care of before that education revolution takes place in
India, experts say.
Technology giant Apple recently launched an app for digital
textbooks that saw an astronomical 350,000 downloads globally in
the first three days.
Educationists agree that digitised textbooks are a key to the
future of education.
"E-textbooks do hold the key to the future as the coming
generation is tech-savvy. It is the era of computers, trees will
be saved and children wouldn't need to carry heavy bags," says
Madhulika Singh, principal of Delhi's Tagore International School.
But she also expressed worry over the availability of sufficient
"There are shortcomings at present which will take a long time to
overcome. For reaping the real benefits of e-textbooks, we have to
presume that every child has access to a computer and internet...a
lot of structural reform is needed," she adds.
But there's a lot of enthusiasm over the easy availability and
other features of a digitised textbook.
"My eight-year-old daughter spends so much time on the computer
that it is difficult to make her read books. But, at the same
time, reading online is something she does willingly," says Neelam
Tripathi, a software professional working in Gurgaon, a satellite
town of the national capital.
"An e-textbook, I think, is nothing less than a boon; it can
motivate children to study," she says.
E-textbooks are the very basis for e-classrooms. Its advantage
over traditional methods of teaching includes animations and
illustrations which are not possible in ordinary textbooks.
Apart from the ability to carry an entire year's syllabus in one's
palm, e-textbooks offer the opportunity to learn in multiple
mediums -- text, video and audio.
Even as India's market for digital textbooks remains limited,
booksellers see it as the future.
"E-textbooks are a natural follow-on to the current trend of
digital education being introduced in classrooms across India
which is making students familiar with the digital medium," says
Soumya Banerjee, founder of Attano, a software.
"Educational e-books also have evaluation features as tests and
assessments are built into the book which gives an immediate
indication of a student's performance," he says.
Founded in 2009, Attano introduced e-textbooks in India,
converting the plain textbooks into interactive books with
corresponding diagrams and pictures. It makes available e-texbooks
from the primary level to Class 12.
"The books are highly user-friendly; even a six-year-old can use
it," he says.
"We are focussing on individual buyers; just like parents go to
shops and buy the hard copy of a text book, they can buy it
"The digitised books elaborate the concepts; for example, if the
chapter has to explain the heart and its functioning, the diagram
will be digitised, which will make it easy for children to
"Currently most e-books are flat texts with no interactive
elements (largely built to cater to novels and fiction).
Educational books are different in that they have text, images,
tables and references. We're pushing the boundaries to make them
more interactive - integrating audio, video, tests and knowledge
sources like dictionaries and wikipedia."
A Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) official said though
the board was considering the idea, it was premature to say
anything. "Digital textbooks are interactive. While children enjoy
it, they learn as well," he says.
According to Internet World Stats, an international website that
features world internet usage, India ranks third in internet usage
with nearly 100 million users, comprising 8.4 percent of India's
population and 4.7 percent of world users.
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