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UNIS Hanoi’s Distance Learning Lessons Go Global
By Akofa Wallace 26-Mar-20
As COVID-19 continues to impact countries around the world, schools that have been closed as a precautionary measure are reaching out to Hanoi’s leading international school to find out how to implement high-quality distance learning programs. The United Nations International School of Hanoi (UNIS Hanoi) closed its campus to students from the start of February after authorities in Vietnam directed all schools to shut in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus. Four weeks on, teachers continue to deliver the International Baccalaureate (IB) program virtually. Utilizing a range of technologies and platforms, teachers have delivered more than 3,000 lessons in a variety of formats to students aged between 3 and 18 years. Imaginative puppet shows, indoor sports challenges, interactive games and screencasts are some of the activities that have replaced classroom teaching. The school has amassed so much original online learning material, there’s a mini-Oscars playlist of the best videos! Program creativity attracts attention UNIS Hanoi’s rapid response to the unexpected circumstances has resulted in requests for support from other schools in Vietnam and farther afield. Ms. Nguyen Thi Thu Huong, who has worked at UNIS Hanoi for a decade, paid a visit to a local government primary school last week to show their teachers how to conduct distance learning successfully. She said, “We have a longstanding relationship with the Dong Ngac B School. Since the closures, they have found it difficult to manage online teaching and learning. They weren’t very confident with platforms such as Zoom or Google Hangouts and they didn’t know how to make it effective for their big classroom sizes, so I offered to give them two training sessions. After one week, they say their confidence with technology has grown.” Ms. Ngo Thi Bich Hang, the Principal of Dong Ngac B school said she’s grateful to UNIS Hanoi, and specifically to Ms. Huong, for the assistance. She added, “We’ve been collaborating with UNIS Hanoi for many years. Our children learn to swim at the school and learn alongside their students from time to time. We’ve also joined their teaching conferences, so it was natural for me to call on them for help. Ms Huong’s workshops were very beneficial to us as educators and to our students and we’re looking forward to learning more from UNIS Hanoi soon.” More workshops to follow The partnership has inspired UNIS Hanoi to share its professional support more broadly. The teachers of Dong Ngac B will be invited to join educators from other local schools in Vietnam to learn more about EdTech at the upcoming Vietnam Tech Conference, hosted by UNIS Hanoi. Scheduled to take place 25–26 April, the Conference will include sessions in Vietnamese about distance learning. The event is part of UNIS Hanoi’s commitment to serve UNESCO’s goals to help grow education capacity in Vietnam. Michael Croft, UNESCO Representative to Vietnam, praised UNIS Hanoi’s efforts: “We value UNIS Hanoi as leaders in this new field of education delivery for the majority of educators in Vietnam and their proactive collaboration with local schools to provide a conduit of best practice. Their outreach promotes intercultural dialogue so essential to tolerance and respect with our students becoming role models in times of tension.” Helping schools prepare Beyond Vietnam, schools in countries in Asia and Europe are also asking UNIS Hanoi for advice, just in case the virus forces their schools to close too. Recently, UNIS Hanoi’s elementary school principals, Megan Brazil and Nitasha Chaudhuri, shared distance learning best practices with international schools in Austria, India, Japan, and Uzbekistan. “Sharing best practices, especially in extenuating times like these, aligns with who we are as a learning community,” said UNIS Hanoi’s Head of School, Jane McGee. “We strive to be an inspirational role model for a better world. That’s why we welcome such interactions with other educators.” UNIS Hanoi is one of only two UN schools in the world. Established more than 30 years ago, the school delivers the full IB programme to a student population of more than 1,100 with over 60 nationalities. To find out more, please visit: unishanoi.org
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