Japan soon will start piloting electronic textbooks in its primary schools, enhancing the role of IT in the classroom for a generation of “digital natives” born in the wired age, reports the Economic Times. Under the “future school” project, 10 elementary schools will give all their under-12 pupils tablet PCs and fit their classrooms with interactive electronic whiteboards starting as early as next month. The networked devices boast software that lets them trace complex Chinese characters on-screen or exchange ideas on a virtual white sheet of paper in real time, while a teacher digitally monitors their work. Japan, despite its status as a high-tech pioneer, lags behind South Korea, Singapore, Britain, and other countries in IT use in education, said an official with the communications ministry, which is running the pilot program. To change that, a newly adopted government growth strategy aims to give every student a computer by 2020. Publishers of textbooks, software, and other educational materials showed off their latest cutting-edge goods for the wired classrooms of tomorrow at the New Education Expo in Tokyo this week. Toshiba has developed a tablet PC designed for educational use called the CM1, together with U.S. microprocessor giant Intel, which will be used in the “future school” project along with devices made by Fujitsu. One of the software programs for it is “CollaboNote,” by JR Shikoku Communication Ware, which allows pupils to share a virtual sheet of paper to write, read, and share information in real time. It can link students within the classroom but also in remote locations, allowing them to discuss and study a common subject…

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