EdTech Vietnam 2018, recently hosted at RMIT Vietnam’s Saigon South campus, brought together stakeholders in learning innovation and educational technology.
Delivered by RMIT Vietnam’s Centre of Digital Excellence (CODE) in collaboration with Saigon Innovation Hub and EdTech Asia, the one-day forum aimed to determine Vietnam’s capacity to deliver high quality digital learning and teaching in the higher education sector.
All fun and games
Speaking as a panelist during the morning session, Associate Professor Mathews Nkhoma, Head of RMIT Vietnam’s School of Business & Management, said there are two main issues currently facing higher education in Vietnam — a heavy reliance on the use of textbooks and the use of final year exams as a means of assessment.
“If you’re teaching finance, it’s difficult to find a textbook that includes cryptocurrencies and blockchains,” Associate Professor Nkhoma told attendees.
“At RMIT Vietnam, we’re phasing out the use of textbooks in favour of our own case studies that focus on real issues in the Vietnam context and then students present their possible solutions back to industry.”
Associate Professor Nkhoma went on to highlight other areas RMIT Vietnam is investing time and money to develop, such as the recent adoption of the Canvas learning management system, and gamification in classes as a way to simulate real world scenarios.
The future is now
Building on Associate Professor Nkhoma’s comments was Associate Lecturer in RMIT Vietnam’s School of Communication & Design, Mr Ondris Pui, who presented on his experiences in developing and implementing an emerging technologies course in 2016. Mr Pui said he noticed rapid change around that time in technology development and realised that educational approaches needed to move in tandem to keep pace.
“If you look around, a lot of things are changing the way we interact within our day-to-day environments,” Mr Pui said.
“Look at how we take taxis these days. The use of WeChat in China and how money can be easily transferred digitally among users is an example of the technology that is here now, so we need to prepare the next generations for what’s coming by being innovative educators.”
Mr Pui stressed that key to being innovative as an educator was in understanding the learning preferences of students, singling out Generation Z, born between 1995 and 2010. He said Gen Z students are motivated by interactive classrooms that are stimulating and centred on discussion, but that they also like online tools, like Skype and Facebook Messenger, to communicate.
Playing catch up
According to panelist Professor Rick Bennett, Head of RMIT Vietnam’s School of Communication & Design, Vietnam is quickly catching up in its attitude towards online learning. While he admits that he isn’t certain if Vietnamese students are ready for online learning as students in Australia, the US, or the UK, he says it is an exciting time in Vietnam because the divide in thinking between parents and their children is perhaps bigger than it has ever been before.
“There is an exciting transition going on in relation to the young deciding for themselves what they want to do and parents saying what they think they [the children] should do,” Professor Bennett said.
However, Professor Bennett had some strong advice for educators contemplating developing online courses.
“Ask yourself, why do it? The online world and the face-to-face world are very different, so don’t try to make them the same,” he told attendees. “Always put pedagogy before technology.”
Story: Matthew Cowan