Books · Educational Philosophy · ICT · Springer

Book Review – International ICT Conferences

Title: ICT Innovations 2014: World of Data (Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing)

Authors: Ana Madevska Bogdanova and Dejan Gjorgjevikj
English | 2014 | ISBN: 3319098780 | 362 pages

Data is a common ground, a starting point for each ICT system. Data needs processing, use of different technologies and state-of-the-art methods in order to obtain new knowledge, to develop new useful applications that not only ease, but also increase the quality of life.

These applications use the exploration of Big Data, High throughput data, Data Warehouse, Data Mining, Bioinformatics, Robotics, with data coming from social media, sensors, scientific applications, surveillance, video and image archives, internet texts and documents, internet search indexing, medical records, business transactions, web logs, etc. Information and communication technologies have become the asset in everyday life enabling increased level of communication, processing and information exchange. This book offers a collection of selected papers presented at the Sixth International Conference on ICT Innovations held in September 2014, in Ohrid, Macedonia, with main topic World of data. The conference gathered academics, professionals and practitioners in developing solutions and systems in the industrial and business arena, especially innovative commercial implementations, novel applications of technology, and experience in applying recent ICT research advances to practical solutions.

Title: ICT Innovations 2013: ICT Innovations and Education (Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing)

Authors: Vladimir Trajkovik and Misev Anastas
English | 2013 | ISBN: 331901465X | 400 pages

Information communication technologies have become the necessity in everyday life enabling increased level of communication, processing and information exchange to extent that one could not imagine only a decade ago.

Innovations in these technologies open new fields in areas such as: language processing, biology, medicine, robotics, security, urban planning, networking, governance and many others. The applications of these innovations are used to define services that not only ease, but also increase the quality of life.

Good education is essential for establishing solid basis of individual development and performance. ICT is integrated part of education at every level and type. Therefore, the special focus should be given to possible deployment of the novel technologies in order to achieve educational paradigms adapted to possible educational consumer specific and individual needs.

This book offers a collection of papers presented at the Fifth International Conference on ICT Innovations held in September 2013, in Ohrid, Macedonia. The conference gathered academics, professionals and practitioners in developing solutions and systems in the industrial and business arena especially innovative commercial implementations, novel applications of technology, and experience in applying recent ICT research advances to practical solutions.


Title: ICT in Education, Research, and Industrial Applications

Authors: Vadim Ermolayev, Heinrich C. Mayr, Mykola Nikitchenko, Aleksander Spivakovsky, Grygoriy Zholtkevych
Published: 2013-01-11 | ISBN: 3642357369 | 245 pages
This book constitutes the refereed proceedings of the 8th International Conference on ICT in Education, Research, and Industrial Applications, held in Kherson, Ukraine, in June 2012.
The 14 revised full papers were carefully reviewed and selected from 70 submissions. This book begins with an invited contribution presenting the substance of one of ICTERI 2012 invited talks. The chapter deals with the issues of abstraction and verification of properties in real-time Java programs. The rest of the volume is structured in four topical parts: ICT Frameworks, Infrastructures, Integration, and Deployment; Formal Logic and Knowledge-Based Frameworks; ICT-Based Systems Modeling, Specification, and Verification: ICT in Teaching and Learning.

Title: Knowledge Sharing Through Technology

Authors: Jeanne Lam, Kam Cheong Li, Simon K.S. Cheung, Fu Lee Wangknowshare_cov
Published: 2013-11-27 | ISBN: 364245271X | 235 pages

This book constitutes the thoroughly revised selected papers of the 8th International Conference on Information and Communication Technology in Teaching and Learning, ICT 2013, held in Hong Kong, China, in July 2013. The 21 revised papers presented were carefully reviewed and selected from various submissions. The papers are organized in topical sections such as management and application of open education resources, application of ICT in support of knowledge sharing, application of mobile devices and social media to knowledge sharing, knowledge sharing for teaching and learning.

Geography · Software · Web Resources

Web Resource – Google Earth

Google Earth ProgoogleEarth_cov is a 3D interactive globe that can be used to aid planning, analysis and decision making. Businesses, governments and professional users from around the world use Google Earth Pro data visualization, site planning and information sharing tools.


Get Productive 
With the advanced measuring and drawing tools in Google Earth Pro, you can plan, measure and visualize a site without even leaving your desk.

Make better decisions 
Visualize your own information in Google Earth Pro alongside exclusive data layers such as land parcel, demographics and historical traffic data.

Share with others 
Create videos in Google Earth Pro that can be shared with stakeholders and customers, providing a unique perspective for any location-based project.

Google Earth Pro key features

Get Productive
– Distance Measurements
– Area Measurements
– 3D Measurements

Google Earth Pro Data Layers 
– Better Decision Making
– Parcel data
– Demographic data
– Viewshed Tool
– Traffic count data

Import your own data 
– Polygons, lines & paths
– Images
– Geocoded data
– Data styling

Publish and Share 
– Movie Maker
– Map Maker Tool
– Export Data

Home Page –

Blended · Books · Mobile · Organizations · Teaching · Video Training · Web Resources


Moodle trademark logo, version 2014.pngMoodle is a free and open-source software learning management system written in PHP and distributed under the GNU General Public License.1_MyHomeExample Developed on pedagogical principles, Moodle is used for blended learning, distance education, flipped classroom and other e-learning projects in schools, universities, workplaces and other sectors.

With customizable management features, it is used to create private websites with online courses for educators and trainers to achieve learning goals. Moodle (acronym for modular object-oriented dynamic learning environment) allows for extending and tailoring learning environments using community sourced plugins.

Moodle learned best learned by exploring the moodle community site, asking questions in the forums and reading the MoodleDocs. moodledocs_cov

You can also find focused 3rd-party moodle training books for teachers published by Packt Pub. Here just a few of their titles. They are well written and hands-on.


Moodle training is also very effective in self-directed, video training. The best ones on this topic, I have found, come from They have specific training titles for Teachers, Students and Administrators.


Moodle can provide support in the following topics that we will be addressing in upcoming blog posts.

  1. Learning Management Systems (LMS)
  2. Gradebooks
  3. Online uploading and downloading of course content
  4. Rubrics and online marking
  5. Polling and Test-taking


Apps · Mobile · Science · Web Resources

More Top Free Android Apps for Science


Android 4 or later, NASA, free  

Ever wanted to see what NASA is up to, right from your phone? With a growing collection of over 14,000 images and videos, you can see what’s happening in space, keeping your eye on current NASA missions and news. The app also features launch and mission information, a live stream of NASA TV, andit  connects to Facebook and Twitter, for easy sharing of exciting information.


Touch Surgery

Android 4.0 and above, Kinosis, free

Simulating real-life surgery, Touch Surgery lets you have a go at a variety of different operations, without the risk of harming a real person! Designed to aid those in the medical profession, the app uses Cognitive Task Simulation, breaking each surgery down into manageable and ordered steps. Although it won’t give you a medical qualification, this is a great way to learn about the human body and experience performing surgery for yourself.

Sky View

Android 4.0.3 or later, Terminal Eleven, free

This app is perfect for stargazers who don’t have the time to learn every constellation by heart. All you have to do is point the camera at the sky, and it will identify stars, constellations and planets, both day and night. You can even use the app to travel in time, seeing accurate images past skies, as well as how the sky will appear on future dates. What’s more, the app requires no Wi-Fi, meaning that it always works, no matter where you are.


Android 2.3 and above, BrainPOP, £1.20-£4.22 

Each day, you can watch a new animated movie and then test yourself with a fun interactive quiz. Topics include science, maths, technology, health, music and social studies. This app is ideal for students, or simply for those who fancy learning something new and testing their knowledge. Each mini film is subtitled, allowing you to read along and take in the facts as you go.

Star Chart Infinite

Varies with device, Escapist Games Ltd, £1.99

Using specialised GPS technology, Star Chart provides you with an accurate 3D universe. Pointing it towards the sky will show you a precise image of where stars and planets are at that precise moment in time, even in broad daylight. Using your fingers you can explore the solar system by zooming in on specific planets and stars. The app even has a voice control function, meaning that you can travel round the galaxy singing “fly me to the moon”.

Amazing Science Facts

Android 4.0 and above, Movin’App, free

Containing thousands of facts, Amazing Science Facts gives you the chance to learn new information about any area of science that interests you. You can receive daily facts wherever you are – the app requires no Wi-Fi, even functioning on airplane mode. You can search specific topics and share your favourite facts by email, Facebook and Twitter.

Science Bank

Android 2.1 and above, JD Star, free

Filled with facts and definitions, Science Bank allows you to explore the worlds of biology, chemistry, physics, space and the environment. The app contains galleries of photographs and diagrams, bringing the facts to life. You can also save your favourite facts and pictures to return to later, even adding your own.


Brian Cox Wonders Compilation

Android 4.4 and above, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, £2.39

Professor Brian Cox takes you on a tour of a 3D Universe, from tiny sub-atomic particles to huge moons and galaxies. This compilation combines aspects of Professor Brian Cox’s ‘Wonders of’ books with elements from the BBC hit show ‘Wonders of the Universe’. The app contains a collection of high-resolution 3D images, with text, to guide you through the planets, moons, black holes and stars of the Universe.

Skeptical ScienceVaries with device, Shine technologies Pty Ltd, Free


Ever heard someone make false claims about global warming, but had no evidence to prove them wrong? Having Skeptical Science in your pocket gives you back up, with endless global warming facts and figures. The app also comes with a great deal of peer reviewed scientific information, giving you reliable evidence with which to prove your point.


3D Brain

Android 1.6 and later, DNA Learning Center, free

Allowing you to zoom in on different areas of the brain, 3D Brain encompasses 29 interactive cerebral structures. You can find out the structure and function of different parts of the brain and learn about what happens if each area is damaged. The app also highlights the role of different brain areas in mental illness, and includes links to case studies and new research.

Source: 2015

Books · English · ICT · Teaching

Book Reviews #17 English and ICT

Title: Teaching English Using ICT: A practical guide for secondary school teachers

Authors: Tom Rank, Trevor Millum and Chris Warren
English | 2011 | ISBN-10: 1441117822 | 176 pages

teacheng_covWant to get boys excited about poetry? Try establishing a wiki-war on the use of form and structure. Or perhaps a podcast to develop close analysis of language. How about getting them blogging about their favourite characters?

Based on established principles of the best ways to use ICT in English, this practical resource looks at when and how ICT can be used to engage and inspire students of English, but only when it enhances teaching and learning, never for its own sake.
Beginning with an overview of what ICT can offer and how it is changing the way we teach and learn, the authors then give practical examples of activities and ideas to attain key English skills and learning goals in secondary schools. Throughout the book, there are tried-and-tested ideas for tackling the hard-to-teach topics, and there is also a dedicated website with links to useful websites, the authors’ favourite tips and downloadable resources.

Title: Infotech Student’s Book

Author: Santiago Remacha Esterasinfotech_cov
English | 2008 | ISBN: 0521702992 | pages: 172

Fully updated in line with the latest developments in Information Communications Technology (ICT), this course teaches students the language and skills they need to understand and work in the world of computers. A focus on terminology is combined with vocabulary and grammar practice to give students the tools to use English in areas such as describing features and functions, applying for jobs and discussing the world of ICT. The Student’s Book contains 30 topic-based units covering everything from computer essentials through to programming, web design, job-hunting, and future technologies.

Title: English in the Digital Age: Information and Communications Technology (ITC) and the Teaching of English (Education (Continuum))

Author: Andrew Goodwyn
English | 2000 | ISBN: 030470623X | 156 Pages

engICt_covNew communications technology has been a boon to teaching and learning subjects of English, from reading and writing to literature such as Shakespeare. This book explores the ways that information and communications technology, or ICT, can be employed in teaching English and enriching the abilities of students. What are the advantages of ICT, and what are some of the concerns? Contributors from Europe, Australia, and North America address the use of media in teaching, from video, film, and audiotape to computer games and online resources. English in the Digital Age surveys the ways ICT is presently being employed in teaching and learning, and it introduces new methods for education.


Note: All the books presented in this blog. Include the original cover and review provided by the publisher. This information is used to accurately promote and show respect for these resources, the authors and the publishers.

Books · ICT · Math · Teaching

Book Reviews #16 -Mathematics and ICT

Title: Effective Mathematics Lessons through an Eclectic Singapore Approach

Authors: Khoon Yoong Wongefmathict_cov
2015 | ISBN: 9814696412, 9789814696418 | 307 pages

With this seventh volume, as part of the series of yearbooks by the Association of Mathematics Educators in Singapore, we aim to provide a range of learning experiences and teaching strategies that mathematics teachers can judiciously select and adapt in order to deliver effective lessons to their students at the primary to secondary level. Our ultimate goal is to develop successful problem solvers who are able to understand concepts, master fundamental skills, reason logically, apply mathematics, enjoy learning, and strategise their thinking. These qualities will prepare students for life-long learning and careers in the 21st century.

The materials covered are derived from psychological theories, education praxis, research findings, and mathematics discourse, mediated by the author’s professional experiences in mathematics education in four countries over the past four decades. They are organised into ten chapters aligned with the Singapore mathematics curriculum framework to help teachers and educators from Singapore and other countries deepen their understanding about the so-called “Singapore Maths”.

The book strikes a balance between mathematical rigour and pedagogical diversity, without rigid adherence to either. This is relevant to the current discussion about the relative roles of mathematics content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge in effective teaching. It also encourages teachers to develop their own philosophy and teaching styles so that their lessons are effective, efficient, and enjoyable to teach.


  • Curriculum: Map the Intended, Implemented, and Attained Landscape
  • Concepts: Build Meanings and Connections
  • Skills: Use Rules Efficiently
  • Processes: Sharpen Mathematical Reasoning and Heuristic Use
  • Applications: View the World Through Mathematical Lenses
  • ICT: Be Its Prudent Master
  • Attitudes: Energise Learning with Emotional Power
  • Metacognition: Strategic Use of Cognitive Resources
  • School Curriculum: Prepare Thoughtful Plans
  • Professional Development: Become Metacognitive Teachers

Title: Teaching Mathematics Using ICT (3rd edition)

Authors: Adrian Oldknow, Ron Taylor, Linda Tetlow
Published: 2010-06-10 | ISBN: 1441156887 | 328 pages

This fully-updated third edition of Teaching Mathematics using ICT incorporates all the most recent developments in mathematics educatimathict_covon, including the new National Curriculum and recent Ofsted maths report. The authors also bring the hardware and software sections of the book right up to date, as well as telling you where to find all the best free resources! The book reflects the shift in focus to personalized learning and cross-curricular approaches, and suggested answers to the reflective questions peppered throughout the text are featured on the book’s dedicated website. This user-friendly book is the definitive guide to using ICT to teach mathematics, and will be a valuable resource for all secondary school maths teachers and trainees.

Title: Mathematics Education with Digital Technology

Authors: Adrian Oldknow, Carol Knightmatheddig_cov
2011 | ISBN: 1441184724 | 304 pages
Mathematics Education with Digital Technology examines ways in which widely available digital technologies can be used to benefit the teaching and learning of mathematics. The contributors offer their insights to locate the value of digital technology for mathematics learning within the context of evidence from documented practice, prior research and of educational policy making. Key pedagogical uses of digital technologies are evaluated in relation to effective mathematics learning and practical ideas for teaching and learning mathematics with digital technology are critically analysed. The volume concludes by looking at future developments and by considering the ways in which ICT could be used as a catalyst for cross-curricular work to achieve greater curricular coherence.

Note: All the books presented in this blog. Include the original cover and review provided by the publisher. This information is used to accurately promote and show respect for these resources, the authors and the publishers.


Top Free Mobile Apps for Science

Smartphones and tablets make for an ideal educational tool, and app developers are taking advantage of the power of our smartphones and laptops to create interactive showcases, educational ebooks and even apps for citizen scientists to help in the search for knowledge. Check out 15 of the best science apps for Android and iOS below.

The Elements (iOS) ($13.99)

Based on Theodore Gray’s The Elements, the app by the same title is a lavishly illustrated romp through the periodic table of elements. Starting off with an illustrated periodic table, users can tap on each element to see an object composed of it, such as a crystal, toy or sculpture. The app also reveals vital facts about the element, including how humans have used that substance throughout history. Lavish illustrations, fun facts and the latest information from Wolfram Alpha are combined into a richly interactive app that more than justifies its steep asking price.

Ultimate Dinopedia (iOS) ($4.99)

Based on National Geographic’s book of the same name, the Ultimate Dinopedia is a lavishly illustrated reference to more than 700 discovered dinosaur species. Every entry features art depicting each dinosaur, as well as a rich collection of stories, facts, size comparisons and other neat information. Other features take a look at the lost world of the dinosaurs, featuring hatchings, migrations and the mystery of their extinction. This is the perfect gift for a budding paleontologist, or any one whose inner child is fascinated with these ancient creatures.

Earthviewer (Android, iOS) (Free)

More than just a Google Map clone, Earthviewer allows users to explore the Earth’s geological past, present and future. Users can explore interactive maps of the movements of the Earth’s continents across millions of years, as well as temperature maps of the past century. Users can locate modern cities and landmarks and trace their positions across eons of continental drift, or even their expected future positions. In-depth features explain more about major events and eras in our planet’s history, with clickable details for more information. Designed for tablets, this app is a great resource for classrooms.

Anatomy 4D (Android, iOS) (Free)

DAQRI is an augmented reality pioneer, and one of its most impressive tech showcases is Anatomy 4D, an augmented reality app that gives you a virtual tour of the human body. Print out the image target, lay it out on a flat surface and aim your camera at it. Then the Anatomy 4D will display a 3D computer graphics rendering of the human body and its various organ systems. Users can zoom in and out on the model, change the viewing angle by moving your phone around the target, and selectively view particular systems in the body, such as the skeletal, lymphatic or respiratory system. A newly added feature is support for a human heart target, that displays a 3D model of the human heart.

Netter’s Anatomy Atlas Free (iOS) (Free)

Netter’s Anatomy Atlas Free allows users to explore 14 highly detailed anatomical diagrams of the human body taken from the fifth edition of Elsevier’s Atlas of Human Anatomy illustrated by Frank H. Netter, MD. In addition to the highly detailed and labeled plates, users can take labeling quizzes to test their memory, take down notes, search for anatomical features and even create customized labels. Users looking for more can purchase the full Netter’s Anatomy Atlas app, though it does come with a hefty price tag of $89.99.

Touch Surgery (Android, iOS) (Free)

Kinosis’s Touch Surgery is an impressive mobile app that lets users simulate real-life surgical procedures right on their smartphone or tablet. Intended as a learning aid for surgeons and students, the app displays surgical procedures step by step, with anatomy and surgical implements precisely rendered in 3D, as well as a ‘Test’ mode for evaluations. If you’re just a curious patient, you can still use Touch Surgery to learn about a particular procedure you or a loved one might undertake. Needless to say, the app isn’t for the faint of heart. And of course, complex surgery should be left to properly trained professionals.

Brian Cox’s Wonders of Life (iOS) ($4.99)

Explore the amazing world of our planet’s biodiversity with Brian Cox’s Wonders of Life. The interactive multimedia app allows users to explore more than 30 different creatures and habitats through a variety of articles, more than a thousand hi-res photographs and more than 2 hours of HD video. It’s a wonderful tour of the richness of the Earth’s ecosystem.

Star Walk (Android, iOS) (Free)

Take augmented reality to the heavens with Star Walk, an AR app that takes advantage of your device’s sensors and location data to present you with an augmented view of the heavens. All you need to do is point your device skyward, and Star Walk will display a matching view of constellations, planets and other celestial bodies that you can view, updated in real time. Users can tap on planets and other notable objects to view more details or check out the Time Machine feature to view the starscape at a past or future date. A Night Mode allows you to to stargaze without burning out your night vision. It’s a great app to have along on a clear night or when out camping.

Redshift – Astronomy (iOS) ($9.99)

For something a bit more high-powered, check out Redshift – Astronomy, which turns your iOS device into a mobile planetarium. Much like Star Walk, you can use the app as a mobile star map, pointing the app to the sky to illustrate constellations and celestial objects. In addition, Red Shift can take you on a 3D flight around the Solar System, exploring planets and moons, including some of the latest data on Pluto and Charon from the New Horizons mission. In addition, the app contains a rich database of more than 100,000 stars and 70,000 deep sky objects, as well as dwarf planets, comets and asteroids.

NASA (Android, iOS) (Free)

The official NASA app keeps you up to date on the latest space news, features, and images from America’s space exploration agency. Users can read up on the latest NASA missions, watch video on demand mini docus and stream NASA TV, check out a schedule of the latest launches and countdown clocks, and view a variety of fantastic phots such as the Earth As Art collections. Users can save videos and photos into their favorites for later viewing or to their device for use as wallpapers.

Skeptical Science (Android, iOS) (Free)

Skeptical Science is a quick guide to debunking climate change denial, listing and refuting the most commonly used arguments used to undermine climate change science. The app presents a top 10 list of arguments, searchable categories and a news feed. It’s a great and informative resource for taking the fight against climate change to the streets.

Wolfram Alpha (Android, iOS) (Free)

Wolfram Alpha is more than just a search engine. The app’s computational knowledge is a wizard when it comes to answering questions about a variety of fields of knowledge, from mathematics, statistics, physics and earth sciences. If you’re looking for the answer to a question covered under the hard sciences, Wolfram Alpha is a fantastic tool for finding the right answer and learning more about the field.

TED (Android, iOS) (Free)

The motto of the TED conferences is “Ideas worth spreading,” and the official TED apps makes it easy to do just that. With this little app, you can download and view more than a thousand TEDTalk videos featuring some of the best and brightest talking about ideas they believe matter. Covering everything from the hard and soft sciences, sociology, art, culture, economics and more, the TED app is a great introduction to big ideas that can shape our world today and tomorrow.

mPing (Android, iOS) (Free)

Become part of the science with mPing. This project from the National Severe Storms Laboratory and the University of Oklahoma aims to help improve weather forecasting. Users chip in and simply report precipitation such as rain, hail or snow when it occurs, when it stops, and other data, with your smartphone’s GPS pinpointing your report’s location. How does this help? Most radar used in weather forecasting cannot reach down to ground level, so crowd-sourced reports like this can provide meteorologists with valuable data.

Kinsey Reporter (Android, iOS) (Free)

Following up on the work of Alfred Kinsey, this app makes you a human sexuality researcher who seeks to reveal more about the human condition. As the tongue-in-cheek app name might suggest, the Kinsey Reporter is a crowdsourced platform for reporting and analyzing anonymous data about sexual and intimate behavior worldwide. Users submit reports about any sexual behavior you observe — including your own if you wish — anytime, anywhere. You can then explore visualizations and download open data reported by users worldwide at the website.

Educational Philosophy · Emerging Trends · General · Teaching · Web Resources


Edudemic is a very important web portal to educational technology resources and ideas.


Here is a great recent article about PISA and the 10 Top Education Systems in the World. This is a teaser to encourage you to go to Edudemic regularly to keep tabs on emerging educational technology trends and relevant issues

Top 10 Education Systems in the World three years, the Programme of International Student Assessment (PISA) conducts an international assessment of the educational programs provided in countries across the world. The test measures the skills and knowledge of 15-year olds in over 70 countries, regions, and economies, covering reading, math and science. In addition, education systems can also choose to test their students in creative problem-solving and/or financial literacy.

Education Systems Image

Image via flickr and Paul VanDerWerf

The test is given at random schools worldwide and is a mix of multiple choice questions and open-ended responses. The PISA test is not based on any particular school curriculum. Instead, it is intended to measure how students at the end of compulsory education (age 15 in many counties) apply what they’ve learned to real life skills.

The 2012 PISA results are the most recently published (2015 test results were not available at the time of this article). Many of the top performing countries from 2009 continued to dominate the assessment. However, a few newcomers—Taiwan, Estonia, and Poland—edged their way into the 2012 rankings. Let’s take a look at the top 10 performing counties in the world based on the PISA assessment and see what they’re doing right for students, teachers, and schools.

Top 10

Canada: In Canada, there is not a lot of difference in how students across racial, ethnic, socioeconomic statuses perform on the PISA. Even students from heavily populated province, Ontario, had strong scores. The Canadian education system is decentralized; each province and territory has control over curriculum. However, the provinces use each other as models and benchmarks when devising new best practices. The regional governments work together to maintain rigorous teacher recruitment and training practices. Family engagement, dropout prevention, and technology initiatives are also front and center in some of Canada’s latest education reforms.

Finland: We’ve previously covered the educational initiatives in Finland that make its schools stand out on the world stage. In fact, since Finland first topped the PISA results back in 2000, the Ministry of Education in Finland has had to form an entire unit devoted to helping foreigners with their requests to better understand the Finnish education system. School autonomy and teacher education are cornerstones to the success in Finland. Schools are allowed to choose their own books, textbooks, and curriculum materials. Teachers are required to have master’s degrees. Because of the extent of a teacher’s training and preparation, they are given a lot of freedom in how they organize their class.

Japan: The Japanese educational system has long focused on preparing students for future work and involvement in society. Japan’s meritocratic society drives people to perform and achieve to the best of their abilities—so that they may access opportunities by their own merit. Japanese curriculum is famous for being rigorous and dense. Students in Japan learn about world cultures in great depth. In addition, the math and science programs in the country are extremely demanding. Students work hard to gain acceptance from family, friends, and classmates. Curriculum in Japan tends to focus as much on how to do something (skill-based) to why something works (application-based).

Poland: Poland ranked below average in PISA’s first assessment in 2000. By 2012, it ranked in the top 10 educational systems in the world. One of the reforms that helped Poland grow was to get rid of the school structure that existed under the communist regime, namely that only students who scored in the top 20% of a high stakes test taken at age 14 would continue on with their education, while the rest would enter vocational school. Today, students in Poland go to school through age 15, at which time they are given four options for continuing their education, all of which lead to the opportunity to take the university entrance exams. In addition, teacher training has expanded to focus on both technical and vocation skills, as well as on how to help students in a strong global economy. Poland also has a goal of expanding early childhood education and enrolling 90% of all 4 and 5 years olds by 2020.

Singapore: In its 50 years of existence as an independent country, Singapore has undergone three distinct education reforms to bring it into the top 10 best educational programs in the world. First, Singapore wanted to improve literacy. The country wanted to provide cheap labor to the world market and knew that the workers needed to be literate. The next phase of reform was to develop a quality school system with high student retention rates. To do this, Singapore tracked students into ability groups called “streams.” Teachers focused on teaching to one learning mastery level at a time. Curriculum and materials were then developed for each “stream of students. By 2008, the third phase of reform began. Ability grouping was abandoned and schools focused on teaching students deeper, more conceptual material. Arts and sports were introduced into schooling, and teacher development was heavily funded.

Estonia: the country of Estonia gained independence in 1992. Since then, the country has worked to rebuild its education system. They focus on three main areas: developing a new, national curriculum; training teachers in innovative practices; and upgrading vocational education. The new curriculum focuses not only on traditional academics, but also on personal skills, like time management, and communication. Teacher training focused on critical thinking skills in a new, high-tech economy.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong has been a major player in the global business and financial sectors for some time. The city began to realize that it had priced itself out of the cheap labor market and needed to focus on educating its people. Major reforms began with providing education for more than just a small elite. Secondary and higher ed education became nearly universal. A shift from rote memorization to higher level thinking skills began in the 1990s. Students now are tested not only with traditional assessments, but also with real life applications. The Hong Kong educational system values constructivist based learning and students get hands on training and practice with many skills.

South Korea: Under Japanese occupation, South Koreans were not allowed to teach or to attend secondary school. When the Japanese left, more than 78% of the population of South Korea was illiterate. Though they tried to kick-start their own educational programs, the war between North and South Korea in the 1950s devastated the beginnings of that fresh start. When South Korea was finally able to design their educational system, they made it strict, rigorous, and full of tests. Students in Korea study longer hours than anywhere else in the world. There is enormous pressure to perform well, both to access future opportunities and to avoid shaming your family. The South Korean only spends about half of what America does per pupil, but families often contribute an additional 15% of that amount to private tutoring and weekend school.

Shanghai: This Chinese city is unique in many ways. It regards choice and inquiry as the cornerstones of education. In the late 1980s, Shanghai began giving students more choice in the curriculum. In the 1990s, the city began integrated science and humanities courses in an effort to emphasize inquiry. These major changes led to students who move from simply acquiring information to those who worked actively to gather and use their knowledge in productive ways. Teacher training and development has been another hallmark of the Shanghai education system over the last 20 years. Teachers in Shanghai today are encouraged to lecture less often, and instead provide hands on, constructive activities to promote learning.

Taiwan: This tiny island has always had few natural resources, so the government spends a great deal of money on education so that the people of Taiwan will have something to offer the global economy. Taiwan considers itself a “knowledge economy.” Taiwan’s schooling programs includes: 12 years of compulsory education, locally controlled curriculum, early childhood education, vocational and arts education, technology-rich classrooms, and subsidies for students from lower socioeconomic status families to attend higher performing schools.

In Short

The top performing school systems from all around the world have many things in common, including an emphasis on curriculum and teaching preparation, and a willingness to reform when needed. However, many of the countries on this list approach these educational components in very different ways. This goes to show that, when the government cares enough to invest in creating a thriving educational system, there’s no “right way” to do so. All that’s required is a willingness to know when change is needed, and the will to dig in and do it.

Editor’s note: This is a revised version of an article written by Katie Lepi that originally appeared on May 23rd, 2013. We believe this information is still highly relevant, but we wanted to update it with the latest thinking. To do that, we invited writer Amanda Ronan to take the reins.

Emerging Trends · Hardware · Mobile · Software · Teaching

Another Interactive Whiteboard


Mimio Interactive Whiteboard software and hardware is an inexpensive alternative to Smarttech Smartboards.mimio_cover










Here is a white paper ( Mimio_WhitePaper_TechnologyChanges) on the effectiveness of using interactive whiteboards for learning.

Mimio is a full featured Educational Technology supplier. Just as a bonus they offer a free guide on mobile device use in the classroom. (MC173_MobileDevices_Guide_2nEd )

Apps · Hardware · Software · Teaching

Interactive Whiteboards



Smarttech makes both hardware and software that can dramatically enhance your delivery workflow. Here is a fact sheet (ed_sls_factsheet_v6) that outlines the combination of the interactive whiteboard and the software called Notebook. I have used these whiteboard for 8 years and believe they are a critically important part of my presentation of information.

I prepare presentations (using Notebook software). I present them and interactively add to them during the lesson. I add words, highlight key points, captures screens from websites, attach files to the presentation and make a PDF of the final worked presentation available for students to take home.

I use the SmartTech Notebook software all the time when reading, using websites, watching video training and participating in webinars. Anytime I need to make notes, I can add notes to slides, or images, capture screenshots from the web or even record sound or video. All of the material can be packaged into Notebook (ed_notebook_factsheet_v6 ) presentation files for display on the whiteboard or saved out to PDF for lesson support material.

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There are a number of new combinations of hardware and software that are less expensive but personally I have found the best solution comes from Smarttech.