A Case Study of a Distance Degree Program in Vietnam: Examples from a Learner-Centered Approach to Distance Education

A Case Study of a Distance Degree Program in Vietnam: Examples from a Learner-Centered Approach to Distance Education

Kristy Beers Fägersten (Söderstorn University, Sweden)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4486-1.ch009
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The English Department at Högskolan Dalarna, Sweden, participates in a distance-learning program with the Faculty of Education at Vietnam National University. Students who enroll in this program are teachers of English at secondary or tertiary institutions, and will study half time for two years to complete a Master’s degree in English Linguistics. The distance program, adapted specifically to accommodate the Vietnamese students in terms of cultural differences as well as inexperience with distance methodology, is characterized by three design features: testing, technical training, and fostering a community of learners. The design of the courses also reflects a learner-centered approach that addresses common problem areas in distance education by promoting interactivity. Central to the overall program is the maintenance of different channels of communication, reflecting an effort to support the students academically and socially, both as individuals and members of a learning community. In this way, the effects of physical and cultural distances are minimized.
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2. Background To The Study

The Vietnamese education system is overseen by the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), the resulting governmental institution after the combination of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education in 1990. One of the directives of MOET was to require a minimum of a Master's degree for all teachers in higher education and ultimately even a PhD for teachers at the university level. After the issuing of this directive, a number of university graduates found themselves in need of a post-graduate education. Teachers of English, for example, were required to earn a Master's degree in English in order to retain their current teaching positions. To this end, many Vietnamese university administrators turned to foreign universities for the provision of qualified and reputable degree programs in English.

A representative for the Faculty of Education (FoE) at Vietnam National University (VNU) initiated collaboration with the English Department of Högskolan Dalarna (HD) in March 2006, via VNU colleagues who had contacts within another department at Högskolan Dalarna. The Faculty of Education at VNU had, at that time, collaborated for many years with a university in Australia, but were interested in finding a Master's program that better suited the needs of their students and was more economically feasible.

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