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The project Connecting Mekong through Education and Training by United States Agency for International Development: Efforts for a better learning environment

 

With the main theme "A Better Campus", the second workshop on the implementation of training methodology under the Project Connecting Mekong through Education and Training Program by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID COMET) which took place in two days from May 18-19, 2017 has brought to the staff and lecturers many new teaching skills. Above all, the aim of the project is to build a better learning environment for the young students of the lower Mekong countries, thereby helping to develop the professional skills which are required by the competitive social labor market.

At the workshop, Ms. Bui Minh Trang – Lecturer from VN-UK Institute, one of the participants involved in the project, said: The project emphasizes training methods for learners who focus on soft skills such as teamwork skills and presentation skills. For students studying at VN-UK, these skills are not strange as students have been practicing these skills, especially English presentation from the first year.

With the current situation of Vietnamese educational system, applying methods from the project is difficult because it is only suitable for classes with the number from 30-40 students, which is divided into 4-5 students/group. This is an ideal model for learners to enhance and promote teamwork skills, but is often only used in high quality training programs.

However, according to Ms. Minh Trang, the project has brought a great toolkit, helping trainers to be equipped with more advanced training methods. For example, for presentation skills, besides using Microsoft Office Power Point, trainers can use other tools like Prezi, PowToon, etc. to make the presentation more interesting, more lively and professional.

Ms. Bui Minh Trang - VN-UK lecturer shared the project-based teaching method at the workshop

According to Assoc. Prof. Dr. Vo Trung Hung – Director of R&D Department, one of the five main trainers directly involved in the project, this workshop focuses on Assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the project-based teaching method. Teaching in this method requires instructors to use in-depth techniques that combine many skills in teaching such as finding materials, research, group work, presentations, especially integration and enhancement of information technology applications.

For good results, at the training sessions, trainers teamed up to work together to help identify and address issues related to building a better learning environment for students. 4 groups in turn and rotate to perform 4 small assignments relating to facilities for learners, training and teaching activities of the school through students’ interview, building learning environment. After one day of practical exercises, one of the issues discovered by faculty members and highly appreciated by the UD leader is to solve the problem of how to link the scientific research centers among UD’s members. According to the development goal of UD, UD will become a research oriented university by 2020, so the link of scientific research activities of member institutions is important to build and promote UD to become a research center in the future.

 

Groups discussion for presentation.  

Presentation about team ideas on Better Campus.

Representative of UD’s leaders, Associate Professor Doan Quang Vinh – Vice President evaluates the ideas of the group presentation

Through the organization and construction of a project-based classroom, the project will demonstrate the advantages and challenges of this approach, thereby forming high thinking skills for learners to work in a more professional environment. It is also the focus of this workshop for the lecturers in addition to the tools at the 1st Workshop (including the willingness to work, community building practice Participatory learning, learner-centered learning, integrated learning, search, evaluation and use of online resources).

Within the framework of the project, the workshop created an environment in which lecturers share the difficulties and obstacles encountered in applying the toolkit into teaching. This is very useful information, which helps to develop more project-based training methods, thereby contributing to improving the training capacity of each unit.

At the end of the workshop, representative of the project, Ms. Dorothy Lutz, presented the certificate of completion to the participants

The University of Danang – www.udn.vn

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