Covid-19 outbreak is a key factor accelerating the process of digital transformation in Vietnam’s education sector.
Integration of technology has been seen as an effective mean to address shortcomings in the Vietnam’s education access and enhance its efficiency, however, there still exists a number of barriers hindering its digital adoption.
Insiders have said that the biggest issue in the sector’s digitalization is a lack of policies and guidance from the central to local levels with regard to accelerating digital transformation.
Nguyen Son Hai, director of the information technology (IT) Department under the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET), told Hanoitimes that the ministry has not yet consistent regulations on online schooling, online testing, assessment as well as quality accreditation of online learning, which is far different from traditional learning.
“The ministry still lacks regulations for organizing online classes and schools in the network, including both short and long term,” Hai said.
Meanwhile, Hai said the sector’s network infrastructure, IT equipment and Internet services for schools, especially in remote areas, are outdated and asynchronous, failing to meet requirements for digitalization.
Director of IT Department under the MoET Nguyen Son Hai. Photo: Anh Kiet
He said the difference in infrastructure development among regions is a problem. To undertake the digitalization process in rural and mountainous areas is far more challenging than in big cities. “Infrastructure, platforms and the environment for digital transformation are not ready there yet,” Hai said.
In addition, the building of digital data including e-books, e-libraries, multiple choice question banks, electronic lectures, e-learning software, and simulation application software has not been systematically formed. Therefore, it is difficult to control online learning quality and content, he noted.
“Online teaching will be effective only if there are sufficient favorable conditions, which will ensure effective online teaching including information infrastructure and terminal devices. All students and teachers must have computers or devices with an internet connection,” Hai told Hanoitimes .
He said teachers need to be well trained in teaching online, while students need to be guided on how to participate in online classes and online teaching activities. Also, there must be instructions on how to organize online classes, and how to examine and assess students’ abilities and recognize online teaching results.
Covid-19 creates new thinking
When schools around the world have to close to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, online schooling is seen as a new poke promoting the Vietnam’s education sector with its effectiveness in sustaining IT skill for both teachers and students during school closures.
According to Nguyen DinhDuc, head of the Training Division of the Vietnam National University in Hanoi (VNU-Hanoi), after a six-month hiatus of 2020, students’ habits and thinking have changed remarkably.
A survey in early 2021 at the VNU-Hanoi found that nearly 60% of students want online classes.
The VNU-Hanoi has put nearly all learning materials into the digital courseware system to replace paper materials, which saves some VND2-3 billion (US$86,483-129,725) a year, Duc said.
Dao Van Diep, a teacher in Hanoi, is teaching online while students are off from school due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: Anh Kiet
He noted that digitalization in education sector has also improved training quality and eased teachers’ workloads, and provided new teaching tools to teachers through the application of digital technology.
“The success of the digitalization in the education sector will make an important contribution to the formation of a digital nation,” Duc said, adding that it is an important task to reform the education sector and improve education quality.
Hoang Thi Mai, a third-year student at the VNU-Hanoi, told Hanoitimes that online schooling weakens students’ soft skills as there is no direct meeting and discussion.
“Online learning allows students to review the lectures and save time since we don’t have to travel,” Mai said.
She added that the biggest advantage of online classes is online storage of all materials, discussion questions and tests which is easily accessible for students anytime and anywhere.
Great efforts of Vietnam’s education sector
Over the past time, the MoET and the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) have jointly encouraged technology firms to support and sponsor technology infrastructure, internet connection and software to help promote online schooling.
The MoET itself has developed a shared digital courseware, including open courseware, with about 5,000 e-lectures, 2,000 videos of lectures broadcast on television, 200 virtual experiments, 200 textbook items, 35,000 multiple-choice questions and over 7,500 doctoral dissertations.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the MoET has launched the website AnToanCovid.vn to build a database and draw maps about pandemic information for educational establishments. Over 18,000 schools update information daily on the website.
The education sector is building a digital capability framework for students, from preschool to general education. Students will not only practice using tools and be given knowledge, but also will develop their thinking skills and creativity.