Romania, a digital revolution

In case you’ve missed it, Romania is preparing for the mass digitization of the educational system. Local book publishers and eLearning companies are scrambling to create one of the 24 interactive digital textbooks that will be evaluated in June 2014 by a committee of teachers appointed by the National Ministry of Education.

 

After the evaluation, the new and improved manuals will be set to enter the approximately 4022 public schools of the country. But this 24 digital textbooks endeavor is just the first step. A whooping 560 manuals are estimated and targeted to be digitized in the coming years.

Traditional book publishers seem to have been caught off-guard though, with only some being ready with the required technology. The motives, specifications come as pretty demanding for the allocated development time:

Registration Deadline 3rd of June 2014
Operating System Windows, Android, Linux, OS X, iOS
Browser Minimum: Google Chrome 31+, Mozilla Firefox 25+, Internet Explorer 10+
Hardware Minimum: PC/tablet/smartphone, 800 MHz processor, 512 MB RAM, 1 GB of available space
Resolution Minimum: 1024×768 pixels
Development tech. HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, SVG, MathML

The digital textbooks will be required to be responsive, run cross-device, cross-platform and on any popular browser. An app on iOS or Android will not suffice. Flash Technology is also out.

One of the main advantages is that the new textbooks will be updated with ease in time – a must in Romania, where some manuals are long obsolete (1991).

Following South Korea’s example, schools in Romania will not fully replace paper textbooks with digital textbooks but instead will be using the two versions simultaneously for a period.

Down at development level, the local eLearning scene is in full gear. Our company, Ascendia Design, has just announced its intention to participate and also presented a demo for one of the textbooks. A few more companies are expected soon to show their own versions. Ascendia was one of the first companies in the world to produce an iBook Textbook, publishing just days after Apple had launched the program in 2012.

No news at this point regarding a hardware solution but the safe bet is that the Ministry of Education won’t be buying tablets too soon.

That’s it, for now.