If teachers don’t undergo transformation, or do this by half, the digital transformation process will be stagnant.
While many business fields and careers have been ‘engulfed’ by the ‘information technology wave’ in the last decade, tertiary education remains unaffected, according to a book about digital transformation and internationalization of universities published by the Erasmus Mundus Program in 2019.
The traditional way of teaching and learning is still being done, and there is a lack of motivation for reform, the authors said.
At the workshop ‘Smart university – opportunities and challenges’ organized about one year ago, Dr Nguyen Chan Hung from the Institute for Control Engineering and Automation, an arm of the Hanoi University of Science and Technology, affirmed that the 4.0 industry revolution will upset the entire education system, especially higher education. Vietnamese schools have begun the transformation, but they are only at the ‘starting’ point.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic, which broke out in early 2020, has forced everything to change. Universities, like it or not, will have to participate in and speed up digital transformation.
Teachers have to step out of their ‘safety zone’
Pham Thai Son, a lecturer at the HCM City University of Food Industry, said that teachers play a very important role in the digital transformation.
“Teachers have to first undergo the transformation before others,” he said.
Schools have been changing their thinking. They have been building models to digitize lectures and learning materials, and converting the things they use into digital resources.
According to Son, in addition to professional knowledge, lecturers need to have knowledge in technology, especially information technology.
“As students regularly access technology, teachers also have to have knowledge in technology, at least enough to use. They need to be bold to step out of their "safety zone" to keep up with the changes of the times,” he said.
At the Hanoi University of Science and Technology, during the epidemic, the lecturers quickly put school materials on the internet and combined them with available international material sources to improve online teaching quality.
Dinh Van Phong, Vice Rector of the school, pointed out that the challenge of digital transformation is changing users’ mindset.
“We cannot follow the old way of working on a new digitized system. Digital transformation doesn’t mean change something from ‘paper’ to the ‘internet’,” he said.
“Digital transformation must be associated with international standardization and reduction of cumbersome procedures,” he said. “Digital transformation causes every unit and every individual to rethink the working process.”
|While many business fields and careers have been ‘engulfed’ by the ‘information technology wave’ in the last decade, tertiary education remains unaffected|
For the Hanoi University of Science and Technology, the major goal of digital transformation in tertiary education is improving the quality and experience of learners. Digital technology increases the school’s competitiveness, and creates a culture of making decisions based on analyzing data so as to optimize the school’s resources.
According to Hanoi Industry University, teaching methods have been the slowest to change in the transformation and it is the biggest ‘bottleneck’ of the process.
To speed up digital transformation, Kieu Xuan Thuc, head of the training division of the school, thinks that training units need to implement combined teaching for all theoretical and experimental modules on computers; develop 100 percent online training programs for some majors such as IT and business; and diversify training programs towards interdisciplinary majors with digital technology integration.
In addition, according to Thuc, the important factor is improving the capability of the teaching staff to implement teaching methods using information technology and digital technology and online training forms.
What determines the success of digital transformation in education?
At the HCM City University of Technology and Education, the number of lecturers applying digital teaching has increased rapidly within several years.
In the first semester of the 2014-2015 academic year, there were only 17 lecturers applying digital teaching. The figure is now 700.
However, Do Van Dung, rector of the school, said that many lecturers cannot adapt to the new technology. The problem for schools is that they have to spend money to lease technology platforms every year to keep operating. Meanwhile, lecturers have to be trained regularly.
“Lecturers need to be dynamic and take the initiative in mastering technology. Schools have to spend money on servers and big data centers as well as build lecture recording studios. Everything has to change,” Dung said.
Son also warned that if teachers don’t undergo transformation, or do this by half, the digital transformation process will be stagnant.
“Technology use will determine the success of digital transformation,” he concluded.
Le Huyen - Thuy Nga
Vietnam’s recent efforts to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic and the determination to pioneer the digital transformation in the educational sector have been praised by international organizations and Harvard University professors.
Rana Flowers, Chief Representative of UNICEF in Vietnam, said Vietnam is leading other countries in digital transformation in the education sector.