This article is the second of a two-part series featuring excerpts of an interview with Professor Gael McDonald, President of RMIT Vietnam, published in Sinh Vien Viet Nam Newspaper (Vietnam Student Newspaper-SVVN) on 4 December 2017.
The previous article focused on the University’s strategy and achievements. In this article Professor McDonald discusses how RMIT prepares students for a digital future and how the University contributes to the community.
How will RMIT Vietnam prepare its students for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?
Clearly the Fourth Industrial Revolution involves enhanced digital capabilities. As a consequence, our students – from day one – start enhancing their digital skills by engaging with our learning management system (CANVAS). Our library, which holds the largest collection of English texts in Vietnam, also holds a repository of digital resources which greatly assists researchers in accessing current research papers in their field.
However, I think the greatest contribution that RMIT Vietnam is making [to prepare students for the Fourth Industrial Revolution] is in regard to its co-curricular program – Personal Edge – where students build skills in six overarching areas: creative thinker, confident communicator, cross-cultural team player, ethical leader, digital citizen, and career strategist. We have introduced a digital platform that helps students manage the development of these skills, and which also serves as a repository of evidence of their capabilities. This app is gamified to reward students for achievements in skills development.
RMIT replaced traditional textbooks with digital learning resources in semester 3, 2017. Can you please share with us more details of how students study without hardcopy textbooks?
As a writer of textbooks myself, one area that has always concerned me is how quickly textbooks become dated. As you will appreciate, students love to receive the most current information and examples, which fortunately are now readily available via news media feeds, YouTube, and other digital sources. We are therefore focusing on the presentation of more contemporary and current material to students rather than relying on textbooks. This places greater emphasis on the curriculum developers and staff to ensure that key historical concepts and theory – in addition to the most recent case studies – are all taught. This needs to be coupled with experiential assessment and learning activities.
RMIT University ranked 20th and was in the middle of the Australian university rankings. However, RMIT has achieved much more in Vietnam. What are the reasons for the success of RMIT in Vietnam? How can RMIT’s success contribute to the development of Vietnam’s education sector?
Let me answer this question in two parts.
The reason that RMIT Vietnam has a slightly different positioning here in Vietnam to RMIT in Melbourne is because we are smaller and able to make changes more quickly. We are also able to have a close interface with key companies and the professions that we serve. I also think that we have absolutely fantastic staff, dedicated educators who have deliberately come to Vietnam to assist in the educational development of this country. That makes for a highly committed workforce.
The second part of your question quite rightly asks how can RMIT contribute to the wider Vietnam educational community. This is one of the motivations behind the establishment of the Centre of Digital Excellence (CODE). CODE has been active throughout the country, running programs for government officials, high school teachers and university lecturers in a variety of areas in order to build teaching and learning capability – particularly in the digital arena.
Given that Vietnamese universities are getting greater autonomy, we have also welcomed and hosted a number of Vietnamese universities as they have wished to learn more about our governance and administrative structures. We of course have been happy to share.
I think it would be fair to say that one of the reasons that we have been so successful is that we have benefited considerably from the support of the Vietnamese Government at all levels, in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and more recently in Danang.
The central government of Vietnam has openly recognised RMIT University and has gone out of its way to assist us in our growth and development.
Story: Howie Phung