Culture-Based Gamification for Global Education: A Case Study From Vietnam

Culture-Based Gamification for Global Education: A Case Study From Vietnam

Nuno F. Ribeiro (RMIT University, Vietnam)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4993-3.ch011
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This chapter discusses gamification as a viable strategy to deliver tourism and hospitality management curricula effectively at a non-public Western university in Vietnam. This chapter discusses how Western tourism and hospitality curricula, which aim at developing problem-solving skills, independent thinking, and individual initiative in a global marketplace, are at odds with the education system in Vietnam, and proposes specific strategies that can be employed by global educators to bridge this gap. A case-study with upper-level tourism management Vietnamese undergraduates is presented as demonstrative of the benefits of gamification of tourism and hospitality management curriculum delivery. Knowledge of Vietnamese behavioral mores, culture, and language are highlighted as conditions for the successful implementation of gamification efforts in this educational setting. Implications for educational praxis, suggestions and recommendations for best uses, common pitfalls, and directions for future research in light of extant literature are discussed.
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Globalization has brought with it a variety of challenges for educators, not least among which the necessity to prepare university students to succeed in a more culturally and ethnically diverse, interconnected, and interactive workplace; a workplace which is no longer necessarily confined to the boundaries of nationality (Banks & Banks, 2009; Burbules & Torres, 2013). Competencies such as digital literacy, inter-cultural awareness, critical information synthesis and analysis, and global citizenship have been added to traditional undergraduate curricula, and it has fallen upon educators to ensure that such objectives are achieved within the disciplines they teach (Brooks & Normore, 2010; Stromquist & Monkman, 2014).

Conversely, the last decade has witnessed the globalization of education, implying the worldwide mobility of both students and educators (Spring, 2014). This increased mobility and reduced permanence in a single geographic location for the duration of a course of study or teaching career has brought with it a new set of challenges, chief among them how to educate global citizens via increasingly international curricula whilst remaining relevant in local cultural systems. Further, the ubiquitous presence of digital mobile technologies inside and outside the classroom have added another layer of complexity to educational pursuits in the 21st century, with the jury still out on whether they are ultimately a benefit or a hindrance to both students and educators (Lai, 2011; Selwyn, 2016).

Lastly, the speed at which technological change occurs in globalized society has forced educators to familiarize themselves with new technologies, either with a view to adopt them in the classroom, or to better connect with their students, in light of the fact that the last two generations of university undergraduates (i.e., Generation Y/Millennials, born in the 1980s, and Generation Z, born 1990s) exhibit a high level of adoption and comfort with digital mobile technologies, chief among them social media (Mohr, 2017).

For developing and emerging countries, the aforementioned challenges are all that much more difficult to face in light of their additional socio-economic situations. Often newly industrialized, with an economic fabric typically dependent on a handful of exports to a reduced number of countries, lacking in infrastructure and qualified human resources, and with low income per capita, such countries often rank investment in higher education at the bottom of their development priorities (Patrinos & Psacharopoulos, 2020).

Furthermore, such countries must invest heavily in secondary and polytechnic education to fill large gaps in the qualification of their workforce, with higher education remaining accessible only to a small percentage of the population. Additionally, investment in research-focused higher education institutions, capable of producing PhD-level graduates, who would subsequently enter the professorial ranks, is often insufficient, and typically politically unpalatable for countries still struggling with meeting basic needs for the majority of the population (Altbach, 2009). Further, globalization has also had its effects on the development of national education systems, namely by i) increasing demand for highly skilled and qualified labor; ii) shifts in governance; iii) privatization or commodification of education; and iv) internationalization of education (Guan, 2017).

For countries in Southeast Asia (e.g., Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) that have experienced rapid economic and social growth in their post-colonial transitions to political independence, apace with rapid modernization, urbanization, Westernization, and a growing middle class clamoring for increased social mobility, investment in post-secondary education is seen as key for global competitiveness (Guan, 2017; Rizvi, 2017), especially in sectors such as hospitality and tourism (Thitthongkam, 2011; Wang, 2009).

The lack of qualified professorial and teaching staff at the postgraduate levels and desire for English proficiency in undergraduates, among other factors, has led several countries to look abroad for education curricula, teaching methods, and personnel (Guan, 2017; Sharma & Rajesh, 2019). For some countries, the solution has been the opening of higher education to private enterprise and the wholesale import of post-graduate human resources from elsewhere, sometimes from previously colonizing countries such as England, France, or the U.S. (Welch, 2011).

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