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E-learning meets evolving needs

Released at: 08:29, 06/10/2019

E-learning meets evolving needs

Photo: Viet Tuan

Vietnam's e-learning market is diversifying in terms of offerings but innovation must continue to keep up with demand and new trends.

by Ngoc Lan

The Viettel Group recently worked with the Hanoi Department of Education and Training to kick-start the “Free History Pre-Exam Program” on ViettelStudy, an online education or e-learning portal for those planning to sit high school entrance exams. The online training and testing method is similar to the form of the official exams, with multiple choice questions, and helps students review and practice on smartphones and tablets and is completely free. 

The cooperation between the two has brought positive results. The ViettelStudy portal saw 44,686 accounts participating, with 904,589 practice tests taken in less than a month before the entrance exams were held over the summer. The average score in History was the best of the four subjects on offer, with 951 test takers receiving a score of 10 and 98.08 per cent achieving the average score or more and none scoring 0. 

ViettelStudy began providing e-learning services in 2014, with the original version updated and replaced last year. It has some 10.5 million accounts on its system, with 500,000 users making regular access. It aims to have user numbers account for 50 per cent of Vietnam’s population. Ms. Pham Thi Ngoc Lan, Director of BU Education at the Viettel Business Solutions Corporation, told VET that education is a priority sector and enjoys the highest investment resources. “The application of information technology in education is an urgent demand and developing strongly to catch up with global trends and improve education quality in the years to come,” she said. 

More on offer

Vietnam’s e-learning market has become quite diversified, with more providers offering different forms of study, such as English, primary or high school subjects, and soft skills. Like ViettelStudy, other e-learning providers have also found success. 

HOCMAI Education System (HOCMAI), with the Hocmai.vn online education portal, had more than 9 million students participating in its tests, more than 4 million discussions, and more than 40 million views of free lectures from 2007 to 2019. “E-learning in Vietnam is flourishing and it has become a useful supplementary learning method,” said Mr. Pham Giang Linh, General Director of HOCMAI. “Learners can access digital lectures with a variety of content, from high school programs to vocational training and short-term to long-term courses with both local and foreign teachers.”

Kyna, meanwhile, was established in 2013, with Kyna.vn now having more than 600,000 students and nearly 10,000 new students joining each month, for growth of 50 per cent each year. Ms. Ho Hong Bao Tram, Co-founder and CEO of Kyna, told VET that compared to previous years, students, teachers, and training institutions have embraced new technologies to a greater extent and now recognize the importance of technology. “E-learning will grow strongly in 2019 and 2020,” she predicts. 

One of the first e-learning providers in Vietnam, Topica, was established in 2009. Ten years on, it has some 2 million learners in Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia. Mr. Nguyen Thanh Trung, Deputy General Director of Topica, said e-learning has been widely applied at all levels of education in Vietnam, both at schools and in businesses, and this trend will continue. “In a changing world, this is the best way for learners to acquire new knowledge,” he said. “In the next five years, I think most students in Vietnam will access at least one e-learning course.” 

Ms. Lan quoted research from international organizations that found that Vietnam’s e-learning market has great potential from the country’s large population, with revenue growth standing at over 40 per cent each year for an estimated market of just under $2 billion. There are many factors behind Vietnam’s promising e-learning market, which benefits from undertakings and policies to promote the comprehensive application of technology. The Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) is to propose to the Prime Minister the “National Digital Conversion Scheme” shortly, with many experts saying that, if approved, by 2025 many factors will have a strong bearing on the e-learning market.

The vast majority of Vietnamese people pay particular attention to education and have done for many years. Hocmai.vn conducted a survey this year of parents regarding the needs of children in primary and lower secondary schools when taking online courses, which revealed that 33 per cent of respondents declined to seek advice because they believe that e-learning is not appropriate for this age group, while the rate in 2018 was nearly 70 per cent. The number of parents registering for online courses on Hocmai.vn for their primary and secondary school children in the 2018-2019 school year increased more than 40 per cent against the 2017-2018 school year, while revenue growth increased by over 50 per cent.

E-learning still has certain barriers to overcome, however. Ms. Lan said that most e-learning platforms are based on passive learning from videos available on the system, with no sharing of resources between users. “Management agencies therefore face barriers in managing and monitoring the status of learning outcomes,” she noted. Mr. Trung also believes that many learners don’t use the technology in the correct manner. “Though increasingly popular, e-learning is yet to be the first choice in education,” he said.

The continuous change and transformation of official education programs also makes it difficult for e-learning providers to adjust their course content and tailor them to learner’s actual needs, as this requires a lot of effort and cost.

Working to strengths

Vietnam’s e-leaning market has its pros and cons, so providers are gradually developing and improving upon their product offerings. Instead of a regular e-learning page, ViettelStudy is built in the form of a social network, with a user-friendly interface. This helps educational administration agencies gain professional skills, supports teaching methods, and equips teachers with tools to supplement knowledge, with learning materials including courses and questions, while allowing parents to also join to obtain information about their children’s learning situation.

In 2007, when e-learning was very much a new concept, HOCMAI opened its Hocmai.vn online education portal for high school students. It has also developed an e-learning community with some 6 million members and works positively through channels such as forums, groups, fanpages, and YouTube to provide learning support, including exchanging lessons, sharing materials, and interacting with teachers and experts. 

Mr. Linh said that building an e-learning community is a factor that has helped Hocmai.vn gain an advantage in the field. “Thanks to our community, Hocmai.vn constantly makes changes to match student’s needs and takes on new ideas and suggestions from the student community, parents, teachers, and experts to improve the quality of the curriculum and the course content,” he added.

Previously an e-learning site solely for working adults. Kyna has now expanded into e-learning for children, with kynaforkids.vn providing courses in Math and English for children from kindergarten to primary school. Ms. Tram said it is also continuing to strengthen its position in the field of e-learning training for working adults and boosting investments to dominate the online training market for children throughout Vietnam in learning English with native teachers.

Unlike other providers, Topica has worked with 15 universities in Vietnam, the US, and the Philippines to provide online bachelor degree training and building technology and service infrastructure for the universities. “Topica aims to provide a high-quality training platform that will be an ‘Amazon’ in the field of e-learning,” Mr. Trung said. “We will have new products in the near future, such as children’s English training and cooperative programs with international content providers.” 

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