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Asia Pacific Journal of Education
ISSN: 0218-8791 (Print) 1742-6855 (Online) Journal homepage:
Future learning in primary schools: a Singapore
Sallimah M. Salleh
To cite this article: Sallimah M. Salleh (2017): Future learning in primary schools: a Singapore
perspective, Asia Pacific Journal of Education, DOI: 10.1080/02188791.2017.1381407
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Published online: 24 Oct 2017.
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Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 2017
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Future learning in primary schools: a Singapore perspective, edited by Ching Sing Chai,
Cher Ping Lim, & Chun Ming Tan, Singapore, Springer, 2016, 219 pp., US$129 (hardback),
ISBN 978-981-287-578-5
Future Learning in Primary Schools: A Singapore Perspective is an edited book that specifically documents
the evidence of collaborative research among university researchers, education policy-makers, school
leaders and teachers, and industry partners in developing new teaching and learning practices through
ICT and emerging technologies. The book forefronts Nan Chiau Primary School (NCPS); an award-winning “future school” in Singapore that utilizes ICT-enhanced teaching and learning. It demonstrates how
university researchers, school leaders and stakeholders collaborate through the multilevel Technological
Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework, which is created exclusively for the school. The
research findings shared in the book prove how the various stakeholders corroborate in transforming
NCPS into a “future school”; starting from school leaders (the principal, heads of department [HODs],
and subject heads), to classroom teachers. To this effect, the book serves as a strategic guide for transforming future schools, and is an authoritative research reference on the philosophy, pedagogy, and
technology enhancement of a “future school”. The book is timely published for both researchers and
educators as it specifically focuses on whole school transformation and leverages on technological
innovation, particularly, it addresses the importance of context in TPACK research (Rosenberg & Koehler,
2015). For the researchers, the book deepens knowledge and understanding about TPACK as the theoretical framework underpinning a successful implementation of innovation at different levels in the
school transformation. For educators, the book offers further evidence-based practical applications
and strategies to improve students’ learning (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
(AACTE) Committee on Innovation & Technology, 2008; Herring, Koehler, & Mishra, 2016).
The book consists of 13 chapters reporting the research findings on curriculum, pedagogy, and
assessments; a survey on parents’ attitudes towards mobile learning; project reports on scaling-up
efforts; and how NCPS overcomes the challenges for school-based transformation. Foregrounding the
theoretical framework, Chapter 1 explores the NCPS’s design principles as a future school, which was
formulated to fit the Singapore Ministry of Education’s framework for twenty-first century learning,
and showcases the utilization of TPACK at different levels of the school system. In line with Koehler and
Mishra’s (2008) recommendations to address context in TPACK studies, the book appropriately highlights
a contextual understanding of TPACK. For example, Chapters 2 and 3 address the cultural/institutional
and technological dimensions, and Chapter 10 focuses on teachers’ intrapersonal factors. In Chapter
2, the authors propose that the reconceptualization of schools as multifaceted spaces is pertinent in
order to foster learner communities who evolve knowledge, rather than acquiring static knowledge.
The authors succinctly describe the NCPS’s journey in utilizing professional expertise at various levels of
the school system to re-design the ICT-mediated curriculum, which consequently re-built the school’s
capacity to deliver the school vision as an innovative school where inspiring educators nurture passionate learners of integrity. Chapter 3 shares how the school overcame challenges by building relevant
infrastructure for a ubiquitous learning environment for students. The authors highlight the importance
of addressing four important foci for developing the twenty-first century infrastructure: ICT vision, ICT
environment, ICT devices and resources, and ICT support system.
The subsequent Chapters 4, 5, 6, and 7 further elaborate and document the implementation of the
design principles of NCPS. These chapters feature the research outcomes of various technology-enhanced
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pedagogical innovations achieved through the collaborative design of various stakeholders (principal,
HODs, teachers, industry partners and researchers). For instance, Chapter 4 reports on the effectiveness
of an inquiry-based intervention programme, i.m.STELLAR, using mobile devices for engaging English
Language learners, and enhancing their oral communication, creativity, and critical thinking. Similarly,
Chapter 5 illustrates the effectiveness of a virtual learning platform, MyCLOUD (My Chinese Language
Ubiquitous Learning Days), in engaging students in seamless learning for Chinese language. Next,
Chapter 6 demonstrates the use and effectiveness of mobile apps; SamEx (Sampling of Experiences) created specifically for bridging the formal and informal learning of science. Chapter 7 discusses the school
commitment to safe guard their students’ well-being in digital space, and presents the development of
the cyberwellness@NCPS framework, and emphasizes the importance of cyber-wellness among young
users of ICT, and awareness of their responsibility as cyber-citizens. The subsequent Chapters 8 and 9
describe the collaboration between teachers and researchers while Chapters 10 and 11 examine the
teachers’ and parents’ perspectives respectively. Chapter 8 reports researchers’ and Primary 3 teachers’
collaboration in redesigning the Social Studies curriculum to foster students’ knowledge construction
about the social world through the creation of the Knowledge Building Community (KBC) platform.
The chapter concluded that as a pedagogical model, KBC provides a guide towards fostering children’s
epistemic development for social studies. Next, Chapter 9 demonstrates how teachers and researchers
engage in collaborative design-talk to create technological, pedagogical mathematic knowledge using
content analysis. Using inductive data analysis design, Chapter 10 narrates a case study of three teachers
who are recognized as twenty-first century educators. Through the social environmental platform, the
study shows that the teachers are receptive and open to changes. Chapter 11 presents the findings of
a survey on parents’ attitudes towards mobile learning, and concludes the importance of parental support and control towards mobile learning. Chapter 12 illustrates longitudinal studies on the scaling-up
efforts of two projects: Seamless Science Learning and MyCLOUD; and also highlights the multi-faceted challenges associated with the projects. Finally, Chapter 13 describes how NCPS implements a
school-based pedagogical transformation by using mobile devices. Additionally, the chapter identifies
11 barriers that need to be overcome in order to achieve effective and sustainable school change. By
providing awareness, the chapter’s discussion on the 11 barriers would benefit other school leaders
and practitioners desiring to emulate NCPS’s success in their own schools.
In conclusion, this book documents the collaborative creation of TPACK, which extends to include
teachers, policy-makers, and school leaders within the context of developing a “future school”. The
reported research findings achieve the book’s objectives in addressing the gaps in TPACK research on
school leaders’ development of the technological pedagogical content environment, and demonstrate
the impact of “interaction of different decisions made by different stakeholders within the larger education organization” on students’ learning experiences (p. 7). The book merits high commendation for
its relevancy, and its success in addressing the gap in TPACK literatures that normally place emphasis
on teachers’ TPACK. In addition to teachers’ TPACK, the book prides itself in being the first to document
how educational leaders frame and formulate the TPACK environment. It is also the first to document
the implementation of TPACK at multi-level: how university researchers, educational professionals
(teachers, administrators, and technical support staff ), and industry partners, all create an educational
environment and curriculum to transform a primary school into a “future school”.
AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology. (2008). Handbook of technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK)
for educators. New York, NY: Routledge.
Herring, M. C., Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2016). Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) for
Educators. New York, NY: Routledge.
Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2008). Introducing TPCK. In AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology (Eds.), Handbook
of technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK) for educators (pp. 3–29). New York, NY: Routledge.
Rosenberg, J. M., & Koehler, M. J. (2015). Context and technological pedagoigcal content knowledge (TPACK): a systematic
review. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 47, 186–210. doi:10.1080/15391523.2015.1052663
Sallimah M. Salleh
Deputy Dean (Research), Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Institute of Education, University Brunei Darussalam
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