Educational publisher goes digital-A A +A
Sunday, September 29, 2013
ONE of the oldest educational publishing ventures in the country is building a digital platform to help upgrade the country’s educational system.
Vibal Group of Companies, a 60-year old book publisher established in 1953, invested about P150 million to make education a “social and mobile” experience for both students and teachers, said its president and chief executive officer Gus Vibal during an interview last week.
“This has (digital education) to be explored even if it can hurt businesses,” said Vibal.
He said turning printed books to digital copies that can easily be pirated can hurt the business. Despite that, Vibal believes they have to keep up with the changing needs of the customers, especially with technology becoming more affordable to everyone.
The publishing company has made available to the public the Vibe Reader, a universal e-book reader for iOs, Android and Windows devices.
Vibal said the innovation adopted by Vibe Reader has gone beyond plain text as it also incorporated rich multimedia content and other supplements to enhance the reading and learning experience of the students.
The publishing company also adopted an offline-online mobile and social learning system, the V-Smart, where the learning progress of the students will be stored in the “cloud,” enabling teachers to monitor the progress of their students. Cloud storage is a system that hosts files on servers over the Internet, instead of locally in the computer.
The publisher also partnered with companies like Samsung, Google and Microsoft to advance their digital education endeavors.
“For the past 60 years, we were just concerned about publishing educational books but we don’t know what happened to students after they get our books....With that, we don’t see the progress of learning,” Vibal said.
The digital education advocacy originally started in 2006 with the Vibal Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Vibal Group of Companies, providing a free access to e-books online.
Vibal said he observed that many Filipinos, especially children, do not have easy access to books. This encouraged him to digitize them.
But it was in 2011 when Vibal started to incorporate digital books into the academe with the request of the local government of Laguna. Vibal was made the content provider for the Rizaliana classics, which were then incorporated into 1,000 tablets distributed to students.
In September of the same year, La Salle Greenhills also tapped Vibal to provide digital textbooks to its elementary and high school students.
Vibal also donated P25-million worth of Samsung all-in-one personal computers to 500 public special education classrooms including the National High School for the Blind.
Vibal Group of Companies and Procter and Gamble envision to give away one million personal computers to public schools nationwide by 2035.
“What we are doing (in adopting digital education) is not a new thing. But what makes us different from others is that we make sure that learning is made social and mobile where the learning process goes beyond the four walls of the classroom,” Vibal said.
He said the future of Philippine education should be leveraged on social and mobile technology. Social being an “engaging” learning tool to students and mobile which means making learning accessible anytime to students “with a touch.”
But Vibal said that not only those who can afford should have access to social and mobile learning technology.
“In Vibal, we believe that no one should be left behind,” he said.
Vibal said the company will be giving away 1,000 Chromebooks, a type of laptop, to public schools.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 30, 2013.