Mr. Pham Minh Tuan, TOPICA's CEO spoke at GES Event in 2014.
- In recent years, the E-learning model has become more and more recognized in Vietnam, how do you judge of its potential and scale in this country?
- In the past two years, the leading universities around the world such as Harvard, Stanford and MIT have simultaneously deployed E-learning training. Other large universities such as Berkeley, Maryland, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, UNC, USC, etc had developed online training programs for their degrees. According to the research of Sloan Consortium Organization, in 2012, 77% of leading American universities believed that the E-learning model was "equal or better than" traditional method.
In Vietnam, the field has begun to break out. It is currently estimated that there are 3 to 5 million people who have studied English courses, done exam preparation, or study skills online. And the list goes on. Not only are the amount of learners quickly increasing, the available courses have as well.
I believe that in the next 10 years, the majority of studying and learning in Vietnam will be performed through E-learning, regardless of whether it's higher education, secondary school education or foreign languages... A mere decade ago, we only read the newspaper, used desk phone, listened to music on CDs. We had no idea one day we would do all these activities online, on our smartphones sharing our daily experiences directly over social media.
- In comparison with the traditional model, what differences are there between it and E-learning?
- The advantages of the E-learning model are connecting learners to lecturers regardless of distance or schedule. This saves lecturers' time and allows them to focus on their profession by asking questions, guiding discussions, sharing real experiences, creating motivation and encouraging learners. Other elements that lecturers are responsible for such as marking tests, and keeping record of attendance are all supported through software.
In addition, students can discover the best way for them to learn individually. Through video, they can review content without having it re-explained by the lecturer. The acquisition of knowledge through a variety of tools such as illustrated materials, books, applications on mobile phones also help them take advantage of their limited time.
Modern technology and advanced software can help us understand each student, their strong points and shortcomings, any gaps in knowledge, required learning time and comprehension level. Based on the statistics of millions of other students, the software provides the most appropriate methods and pathways for each person. Another advantage is that the software can follow you during your 17 years in school, while in school you may only have a good teacher for a semester.
However, not all programs are able to teach by e-learning. For example, some fields require students to manipulate materials in person, such as mechanics, carpentry, medicine, as well as in-depth research and training programs. However, I believe that future technology will gradually help us overcome some of these obstacles.
TOPICA's CEO believes that E-learning may be the future of education.
- As you have said previously, there are currently many educational organizations utilizing e-learning, including foreign ones. How is the competition between these organizations?
- E-learning in Vietnam is developing programs for bachelor's degrees, private lessons, test preparation, foreign language training and skills. However, new technology means this field will change dramatically. Every 12 months, current online marketing will be outdated, after 2 years, the training content will need to be updated and every 3 years, the whole training methods will need extensive renovations.
Therefore, we believe that the most intense competition is at the stage of attracting talent. Staying competitive in the playing field is essential for the Internet industry in general, not just E-learning. TOPICA is also trying to perfect the system of recruitment, assessment, leadership development and corporate culture in order to compete effectively. With a team of talented personnel, students will benefit through the quality of better curriculum, teaching and support services.
- In your opinion, what are obstacles investors face when joining the industry in Vietnam?
As I said earlier, this field is interesting and has the most potential, so it has a natural advantage. But it confirms that this area needs more investment, lacking suitable talents to develop the technology; therefore, high-quality training programs such as E-learning could face some big challenges.
People previously thought that the training industry was stagnant and young people often sought challenges in hot new fields such as banking, consumer products, and foreign enterprises. Now, more and more people understand that E-learning is an eventful field, offering a challenging but promising career.
However, entering E-learning requires marketing experts to familiarize themselves with online methods. Senior managers have to find ways to motivate sale employees as well as technology experts and teachers. If they can overcome these challenges, they can contribute to helping millions of people increased their knowledge and achieve greater success in work and life. They can also help partially export Vietnam's training technology around the world.
I think that in order to survive, businesses must: invest in software systems, data analysis, assessment processes, and online pedagogy. This will motivate and support learners to achieve superior quality training, rather than simply recording a lecture or digitizing a textbook. Furthermore, they need a good, active and creative staff.
- What do you think of the profitability of investment in E-learning?
- E-learning education requires an intensive investment rather than just upping profits in the short-term. Once students complete a course or graduate they’ve demonstrated their ability. Therefore, the quality and reputation of the services are confirmed and new programs survive long-term. But this is easier said than done and it requires consistency, especially from the leadership.
- What do you think about education in Vietnam? Could you share any suggestions on the future developments for this industry?
- The education field resembled the telecommunications field 10 years ago. We were using a desk phone, ie, traditional technologies while struggling to find ways to increase both the quality and the number of learners. The older form was very expensive and complicated. It suffered from poor efficiency until technological changes such as the cell phone helped reshape the industry.
Training and education is the same, if we follow old methods such as building schools and training teachers, changes are improbable. E-learning offers many innovations for the education field. I believe that over the next decade many schools, businesses and management agencies willl push the education sector into an entirely new direction. Like the telecommunications field, it will evolve into a more efficient and progressive form. Many countries around the world are excited about the potentials that E-learning education provides. Vietnam is not an exception.
There are over 200 speakers participating in GES 2014, including two representatives from Vietnam.
- What are the advantages of cooperating with a university in Philippines for the E-learning sector in Vietnam? And, particularly for your business?
- As we’ve noted in our survey, Vietnam is ahead of some countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines when it comes to E-learning because businesses and schools there have not offered online training yet. Exporting E-learning technologies to foreign markets is our potential development opportunity and we are proud to bring Vietnamese technology to the world, to substantially contribute to the development of education beyond our borders.
I hope that more organizations and businesses in Vietnam will join this trend and realize the potential Vietnam has to be a major player in this field over the next 10 years.
See more information about the conference on VTV1 news reports. Details available here.