Successfully implemented in ten countries in three different continents, the BridgeIT project was piloted in Vietnam by the British Council in partnership with Nokia and Pearson Foundation with 20 primary teachers from 10 poorly resourced schools in Ho Chi Minh City.
The pilot project was launched on 25th January at Le Dinh Primary School, District 11 in Ho Chi Minh City, one of the participating schools in the project followed by a two day workshop for all the participating teachers aimed at equipping them with the skills to use the smart phones to access quality teaching and learning materials provided by the British Council mapped to Vietnam’s national curriculum through the NED platform. (Nokia Education Delivery)
Selected British Council learning resources which included videos in the form of songs, stories and grammar videos from the Learn English Kids website were uploaded to a cloud server. The teachers, using the Nokia Education Delivery software (already installed in the Nokia smart phones), downloaded the teaching resources to the smart phones using the 3G network. They then connected them to TVs or data projectors to display the materials as teaching aids in the class. With the power of mobile technology, the students and teachers were able explore the same state-of-the-arts educational programmes regardless of the location of their school, its internet access or its academic resource budget.
Instead of covering other subjects such as Maths and Science as in the Philippines and other countries, in Vietnam the pilot project focused only on the teaching of English in primary schools (Grades 3-5). This approach also fits into Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training strategy to implement ICT and digital learning resources as part of their English 2020 Strategy to upgrade the teaching and learning of English across primary and secondary levels.
Project Monitoring and Evaluation
The success of the pilot was measured by the satisfactory completion of the training course of 20 selected English teachers, their enthusiasm and commitment in using Nokia smart phones and the Nokia Education Delivery Programme as well as the British Council learning resources. External research was conducted through classroom observations, feedback questionnaires, attitudinal surveys and focus group discussions.
After initial training was conducted in January 2013, observations of the teachers using NED content in the classroom confirmed that teachers were able to use the technology effectively in their classrooms. All of the teachers were able to select content appropriate to their learning objectives, and 90% of the teachers were able to effectively use the NED content to clarify lexis and focus on the form of specific language structures.
Feedback based on interviews with the teachers and students involved in the pilot were conducted in April 2013 was overwhelmingly positive. The teachers said that the NED content differed from other forms of technology because there was a clear link between the NED content and the national curriculum. The learners said that they enjoyed the colourful visuals and the characters in the songs and short stories. Both teachers and students were very positive about the extent to which NED helped students to learn English, particularly in terms of learning vocabulary and reinforcing basic structures, and in developing their listening and speaking skills.
Follow up training scheduled for July 2013 focused on better integrating NED content into existing lessons and exploiting NED content beyond a focus on lexis and form, to encourage teachers to use NED to create more meaningful contexts for presenting new language in the primary classroom, and further exploiting this context to provide more meaningful practice activities in the classroom.
A final series of observations were conducted in September 2013 at the beginning of the new school year to determine the extent to which the teachers are now able to exploit the NED content. While there are still gaps in the extent to which all of the teachers are able to fully exploit the context of the songs and stories to clarify meaning and use of the target language, there was a marked positive shift in how the content was integrated into the lessons. Rather than being tacked on as a kind of reward at the end of the lesson, the NED materials have become a springboard for introducing and practising the language outcomes of the lesson which compliments the national curriculum and the local course books used in primary English classrooms in Ho Chi Minh City.