Close to 90% of Vietnamese students say they are familiar with the online learning model after it was rolled out at the start of the pandemic. However, the urgency of the situation meant many teachers and their charges were “sent online’’ unprepared and poorly equipped. According to some experts, this is one of the reasons few students find the online experience enjoyable or want their schooling to remain digital when things eventually return to normal. Such a phenomenon, arguably, bears testimony to the negative effect of “digital divide.”
What is digital divide?
Digital divide is synonymous to the inability of all users to have equal access to modern technology for the sake of learning and the inequality of the employment of technological equipment and resources. It can be deemed as the gap between regions that have access to technology and those that have no access or constricted access. This technology includes mobile devices, televisions, personal computers, and internet. Vietnam is such a place that witnesses poor online learning due to digital divide.
“In Vietnam, the online learning growth is hamstrung by the fact that education offered in virtual classrooms is no match to what students get offline, despite the additional boost virtual education received since the start of the pandemic.” Here, Quynh Truong, ClassIn’s Country Representative, and Nhan Do, Customer Success Manager, offer their take on what Vietnam’s online education scene will look like post-covid.
Why are not all Vietnamese students and teachers on board with online learning and teaching?
Quynh Truong: At the start of the pandemic, Vietnam’s education system had to quickly shift from a very traditional approach to embracing digitization. What we’ve noticed, however, was that the majority of parents, students and teachers weren’t entirely happy with the quality of online education in the past year. Here is why:
Lacking training and equipment, many teachers failed to fully adapt to the online teaching environment.
Most institutions simply turned their in-classroom curricula into digital versions, rather than developing from scratch a syllabus better suited for online learning.
Virtual conference platforms are not designed for online teaching and learning, as they lack tools to check attendance, give assignments or encourage classroom interaction.
Other than the needs of the pandemic, what makes online education essential in Vietnam?
Nhan Do: In my opinion, there are three areas where technology in education can really help to make a difference:
Unequal distribution of resources: In Vietnam, cities attract top talent thanks to better quality of life and more generous packages, while students in rural and remote areas are underserved. Virtual classrooms help to fix this by giving all students, regardless of their address, access to top-notch professors both in Vietnam and abroad.
Affordability: expenses for online courses are remarkably minimal. As a result, such courses are more pocket-friendly.
Business growth: ‘Build it and they will come’ approach favored by traditional institutions to increase enrollment might not work post-covid. When opening a new center, it’s not only the cost of the work that needs to be factored in, but also the availability and cost of human resources. With online learning, your operational expenses are reduced considerably.
What are some possible solutions to make online Vietnamese classes effective and improve digital divide?
Quynh Truong: The first and most fundamental requirement for an effective online classroom is application software.
Teachers need a platform that is specifically designed for their needs, with a variety of tools that are similar to what a physical classroom offers. Besides, they should be trained and familiarized with the nature and methodology of online teaching. This way they will be able to continuously improve.
Nhan Do: A more light-hearted solution is offered by EdTech. Here, tech is given a supporting role, while the interaction and the content are prioritized, online and offline. You don’t want your child to sit through a 90-minute “one-teacher-show” as a passive observer. There must be interactive activities that actually engage learners.
An effective online curriculum is the make-or-break factor in a pandemic. Some institutions have whole departments in charge of planning, experimenting, evaluating and editing before rolling out the final curriculum that includes online classes and interactive activities. The scope of work is huge and institutions shouldn’t rely on teachers alone to deliver this.
And how does ClassIn support online educators?
Quynh Truong: ClassIn’s product design principle is to offer a teaching-learning online experience that imitates an offline classroom. We rely on hours of observation to design virtual learning spaces with interactive tools that mimic how traditional classrooms function.
90% of classroom activities (attendance checking, assignments, exams, pair/group work) are now available on ClassIn. These activities enable classroom collaboration, increase student talking time and teacher observing time. Moreover, after every lesson, teachers can utilize the homework and quiz assignment functions to check students’ comprehension.
How is ClassIn helping its partners, including educational heavy weights, to make inroads online?
Nhan Do: The first question we must try to answer as specifically and honestly as possible is: “Why online education?” Many institutions would jump on the bandwagon and “go online” because they find it trendy or a good temporary solution.
The truth is, “going online” is a long-term strategy that depends mainly on an institution’s leadership. A list of specific goals when digitizing can help them to commit to this long-term investment and remain level-headed during the transition.
On top of that, ClassIn offers class size-specific consultations focusing on the teaching method. The reality is that it is nearly impossible for traditional educational facilities to move all operations online overnight. To help things along, the “Online-Merge-Offline” (OMO) approach, which combines online and offline aspects to a reasonable extent, can be helpful as a starting point.
Change is disruptive for everyone: from operators and educators to learners. Being aware of such struggles, ClassIn is more than willing to assist with training activities, support content developing teams, and enhance teachers’ skills, not just to offer encouragement but also to make online teaching experience more seamless.
What is ClassIn going to bring to Vietnam’s market in 2021?
Quynh Truong: We do believe that the traditional classroom model still plays an important role in Vietnam’s education system. The online model will only truly take off once educators are able to offer the same quality online as they do offline. Then, more work will need to be done to convince parents and students to start trusting the virtual solution. This will take time and commitment.
Eventually, as demand for online learning continues to grow, this model is going to be recognized as an essential part of education. As a result, merging virtual technology and traditional classroom models will become a trend that will shape the education scene in Vietnam in the near future.
In 2021, ClassIn is going to continue providing our interactive online learning platform and developing alternative OMO solutions. We hope that a combination of well-designed tools, investment and policy will help online Vietnamese classes thrive and pass the test with flying colors. Also, since it’s a necessity to be aware of the potential barriers to the acceptance of technology and the access to internet, ClassIn, which maintains the traditional style of classroom teaching and supplies wide access of online learning, constitutes a pivotal solution to digital divide.
Pilot Study on OMO Learning: https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/13/6/3512/htm
About ClassIn: https://www.classin.com/en/
*ClassIn is a leading edtech company that provides a one-stop solution for digital learning.
ClassIn software enables interactive classrooms, in-school social app, lesson scheduling, homework management, and school management dashboard, which start free and scale up to meet our customers' needs at any stage of teaching. Today, thousands of schools and institutions around the world benefit from ClassIn's powerful and easy-to-use tools to teach online and offline.