Who takes the initiative in e-learning battle?

March 05, 2020 | 17:23
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The coronavirus epidemic is a test that brings both opportunities and challenges for Vietnamese education as public schools are scampering to adopt e-learning and catch up with private schools that have stepped on the path to innovation already.
who takes the initiative in e learning battle
Public and private schools are racing to adopt e-learning to mitigate the disruptions caused by COVID-19

Test result

At 8am Pham Tran Khanh Linh, a sixth-grader of The Olympia School in Hanoi, is sitting in front of the computer instead of rushing to school, waiting for her online class to start. E-learning was rolled out by the school in reaction to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, which forced a month-long nationwide school break.

“We use Microsoft Team and Google Hangouts to study online. I have 3-5 lessons a day, with 45-55 minutes each. Besides that, my teacher can also send homework by email or through the app named School Online. We are all used to it because the school introduced online learning much before the current epidemic," Linh shared.

Same as Linh, instead of going to class, many teachers now sit in front of a smartphone or computer to record classes and upload them online or live-stream lectures.

With students on such a long compulsory break, the country is witnessing a transformation of education, from public to private schools and big cities to local provinces. Teachers who usually used chalk are now getting familiar with smartphones and laptops and online teaching. While e-learning is generally perceived as a natural progression in the 4.0 era, for many senior and elderly teachers in public schools, these are still uncharted waters.

The health emergency has become a lever for online learning to grow. The most popular software include Skype, Zalo, Google Classroom, Google Site, Class Dojo, Microsoft Office 365 Teams, and Facebook,among others.

Along with that, technology companies have also been rolling out products to meet the high demand. As an example, VNPT opened its vnEdu Teacher and vnEdu Connect applications which support teachers to give homework by sending pictures or word files as well as mark students via the internet.

“VNPT's e-learning tools can support schools of all levels, even institutions that provide vocational training. With VNPT e-learning, teachers can upload their lecture notes as well as videos or even hold live streams to teach online. Teachers can also interact, assign homework, and test assignments very conveniently. VNPT will provide free access to these applications for a year,” shared a VNPT representative.

Viettel also launched ViettelStudy, its social learning system for free. On this system, teachers can organise online classes by live-streaming lectures, provide lecture notes, tests, and check the results. Students can take online classes, review their test results, or interact with teachers and friends right after the test.

FPT also supports free online learning via its VioEdu system (vio.edu.vn), providing lively and interesting animated video lectures and real-life examples. VioEdu has achieved 70,000 daily visits.

Elsewhere, Dr Nguyen Long Giang, head of the communications department of Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education chose the Zoom application to connect with his students.

“Zoom shows statistics on meeting time, the list of members, and member activity. In addition, Zoom allows meetings to be recorded and downloaded for later review, without time limit and capacity. The price of the application is also quite reasonable, with about VND360,000 ($15.6) a month. If used for free, the connection will time out every 45 minutes and users will have to log in again,” said Giang.

Some private education institutions choose to invest in their own online learning systems to support students, for instance, Topica, GLN & JOLO online learning, and Yola smart learning.

Scenting opportunity, UK-based Nisai Group, a new player, signed an MoU with a Vietnamese partner to open offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and expand its Global Online School to Vietnam. Nisai's global school is an online British school that provides the Cambridge international programme for students in grades 6-12. The school will begin to enrol students in this March to start the first semester in this September.

It is time to change

While private education institutions are familiar to e-learning, most public schools are still loyal to the traditional methods. Only a few universities adopted online teaching such as National Economics University, National University of Civil Engineering, and Hanoi Open University.

The relationship between student loyalty and the factors that lead to loyalty have been studied extensively in the traditional educational environment where interactions between students and instructors take place directly in physical classrooms on campus. However, advances in ICT are changing all industries and sectors, and education is no exception.

In the technology era, computers and IT are making a revolution in education systems, showcasing many advantages like low costs, internationality, and a variety of teaching and learning options for schools at all levels.

If education institutions in Vietnam can improve the quality of their services, their student base will solidify and grow. Better services would also increase student loyalty, and after a point each satisfied student can be a messenger to freely advertise the school and its e-learning programmes.

However, on the flip side, the equipment available in Vietnamese education institutions is not yet up to standard and is in a dire need for upgrade, leaving obstacles for both teachers and learners.

It is undeniable that online teaching method still has many limitations and cannot completely replace face-to-face classes. However, it is obvious that e-learning is a rising trend in the world as the technology era is setting in and is a promising land for technology players and a valuable opportunity for public schools to renew themselves in the competition with private educational institutions.

By Tan Duong

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