Forum explores importance of digital immersion in higher education

October 21, 2022 - 21:39
Experts in academia, industry, and government gathered at a forum held in Hà Nội on October 21 to explore the importance, as well as the success and the challenges of leveraging an digital environment in higher education
The forum was held in Hà Nội on October 21. — Photo courtesy of the ASU

HÀ NỘI — Experts in academia, industry, and government gathered at a forum held in Hà Nội on October 21 to explore the importance, as well as the successes and the challenges, of leveraging a digital environment in higher education.

The "Digital Immersion" forum was hosted by the “Building University-Industry Learning and Development through Innovation and Technology” or BUILD IT project, funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Arizona State University, and the Hà Nội University of Industry.

The fifth forum in the six-part Playbook forum series also explored how to maximise the multiple modalities available to universities to best support their students in an ever increasingly digital world.

Through the digital pedagogy in higher education playbook, BUILD-IT university partners have access to proven best practices, methodologies, and approaches for teaching and learning in a digital environment. A collaborative effort between ASU and its eight strategic partner universities, the Digital Pedagogy in Higher Education faculty training programme has launched at scale to expand the knowledge base and skill set of higher education educators in Việt Nam.

For the past seven years, BUILD-IT has been helping Vietnamese universities support their faculty and staff in the creation of professional development opportunities designed to better prepare them to be successful educators in the 21st century. Việt Nam’s technological infrastructure, some of the most impactful in Southeast Asia, provides a solid foundation for leveraging all the potential digital education offers, whether synchronous or asynchronous.

Bringing together experts from local universities and Arizona State University, great progress was made in establishing a long-term, sustainable transformation in the landscape of digital education. The Digital Immersion forum celebrated the dedicated, visionary educators from BUILD-IT’s partner universities who strove to build something that will positively affect education in Việt Nam long after the end of their partnership.

Attending the forum, Dr. Bob Schoenfeld, Program Manager for BUILD-IT, said, “the reality of the tremendous opportunity digital immersion provides is here, now, in Việt Nam. The access and impact that these opportunities offer can transform education, communities, and industries. Everyone here recognises that education is not static. It evolves. The people who attended this forum want to be part of that evolution.”

The forum also celebrated the winners of the USAID BUILD-IT "Increasing Digital Assets" Programme. This participant-centered series of workshops and mentor-supported instruction was designed to turn higher education personnel – faculty, staff, administration – into content creators. Recognising that there is a need for professional instruction in many areas not limited to classroom curriculum, faculty and staff gathered to turn their personal areas of expertise into digital assets that can be used by everyone in their university. This programme emphasised that relevant content can be created by anyone with the skill set and expertise to present accessible instruction to their audience. The winners displayed their digital assets to a forum audience hungry to see what a group of dedicated educators can do for their institution.

The forum culminated with a workshop for audience members who wanted to create the next steps for implementing digital immersion at their school.

While the benefits of BUILD-IT’s programmes are obvious in real time, the real value of BUILD-IT is in its long-term support of higher education. To leverage seven years’ worth of programmes, workshops, seminars, and training sessions, BUILD-IT created its Playbook Series to assist in sustaining BUILD-IT’s value long after the BUILD-IT programme ends in 2023.

The 2022 series of BUILD-IT forums celebrates key topics from this BUILD-IT playbook series, as prioritised by university partners. Topics in this playbook series include Institutional Accreditation, Project Based-Learning, Digital Immersion Learning, Program Accreditation (AUN-ABET), Industry Advisory Boards, Women in STEM, Maker Innovation Network, Faculty Development and Active Learning. — VNS