For technology to have an impact in Vietnamese classrooms, the path of least resistance appears to be in the vocational education classrooms around the country. Vocational training courses are on the rise, and vocational schools had an eighteen percent increase in attendance from 2011-15. The Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training is perhaps the biggest booster of change of educational focus. Ministry leaders are convinced that schools should take the initiative and work with enterprises in developing new training models and renewing curricula. Let’s just say that in this part of the world these words are more than simply “suggestions.”
So when the Ministry says that new teaching methods are needed I think they are also taking aim at the teacher training colleges that already appeared to have graduated an overwhelming surplus of teachers who can not find jobs (70,000 estimated). To teach in Vietnam, you may just simply have to learn a new set of skills. That is not just the case in Vietnam as we all know well. Here is what the Deputy Minister of Education and Training had to say about all this.
“Global integration and the movement of Vietnamese labourers to other countries and foreigners to Vietnam because of the Association of Southest Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community and international trade agreements, requires schools to renew curricula and methodology for a new age.” Now that sounds better!
Ours is now a world of constant communication. We can reach colleagues, friends, and family in an instant thanks to our technological connectivity anywhere from wherever we may be. It’s hard to imagine that it has not always been this way. And as teachers struggle with implementing technology in their classrooms in the most advantageous ways for all students, they often find technology getting in the way. With students’ heads bowed scanning the screens of their iPads or other digital devices, teachers must often compete for some modicum of attention for a lesson they are presenting.
Maybe there’s really nothing new about this classroom phenomenon. Teachers have been competing for students’ undivided attention since the days of Aristotle but the most consequential outcome in the digital age may be the loss of students’ conversational and broader social skills. As one writer expresses it: “Kids have to use their five senses, and, most of all, they have to talk to each other.” In a recent Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development study across more than three dozen countries (not including the United States), moderate computer use in school results in modest academic gains. More frequent or heavy computer use has a negative impact on student learning.
So students in the digital age may actually be learning less as they use their computers more. Besides turning off or moderating their use of digital devices, what should these young people do. Maybe have a face-to-face conversation with someone?