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PEN 2021/22: Professional Development Seminar Attracts More Than 300 Teachers

More than 300 teachers at various schools and universities, coming from 40 provinces and cities attended the PEN Education Conference 2021-2022 to update novel education techniques and training skills.

In 2019, IEG Foundation and Fulbright University Vietnam collaborated to establish the Pioneer Educators Network (PEN). The PEN conference was designed to update scientific research in the field, as well as advanced educational trends in the world, and breakthrough teaching methods for teachers. After the success of the last two conferences, the PEN 2021-2022 workshop, sponsored by USAID, Temasek and ClassIn, was held in two periods: March 19-20 and April 2-3.

Dr. Nora Taylor - Interim President of Fulbright University Vietnam said that PEN is proof that teachers are lifelong learners, always ready to embrace new ideas and models.

"That's how we train leaders and innovators of the future to create lasting change," she emphasized.

In the workshop, local and international education experts shared their knowledge on three teaching methods inspired by curiosity and liberal arts thinking. In the module named "Online learning and flexible learning", Professor Zhang JingJing - Professor of Educational Technology at Beijing Normal University (China), said that many teachers thought that having a computer can solve all problems. However, in reality, teaching online is more than just interacting with the computers. At the same time, you are also connecting with your students.

"A study shows that feeding students with a large amount of information leads to a lack of motivation for students to concentrate. For each lesson, teachers need to determine what is the right amount of time to teach 'raw' knowledge and when it is necessary to add interesting activities to avoid boredom," she added.

Professor Zhang JingJing (leftmost, front row) shares about teaching and learning online. Photo: PEN

Professor Jing Li, Department of Education and Development, Texas A&M University (USA) also said that online learning is an alternative method, which can also open up opportunities for teachers to improve lecture quality.

"Technology is a great tool to help us unleash breakthrough potentials in teaching and learning. Opportunities are always open once teachers have ideas, motivation and ambition," the professor emphasized in the module “Teaching skills in blended learning sessions.”

According to educational experts, whether it's online or face-to-face, teachers always need to redefine the question "What should students spend time in class for?". In the module "Process-oriented guided inquiry learning (POGIL)", Dr. Tran Vinh Linh - Lecturer at Fulbright University Vietnam said that teachers should create opportunities for students to learn through overcoming their own obstacles, instead of being fixated in the "teacher teaches - student listens" mentality.

Lecture on the issue of teachers asking questions in the PEN 2021-2022 workshop. Photo: PEN

In addition, Dr. Nguyen Chi Hieu, CEO and Founder of IEG Foundation brought the topic "Ask questions for deeper learning". According to Dr. Nguyen Chi Hieu, most of the teaching in the classroom is focused on laying out content and providing answers, leading to students being less able to develop the ability to think, reason, apply knowledge and understanding to life.

Therefore, teachers need to be flexible in creating a series of questions and discussion activities to help students not get stuck in "surface" thinking. These questions should be able to help students understand deeply, and promote thinking at the "transfer" layer. Thus, students will be able to turn classroom lectures into their own knowledge and resources.

More than 300 teachers nationwide participated in the workshop. Photo: PEN

Dr. Hieu added that, according to a survey in the US in 2014, students in this country spend 50% of their time at school "waiting for something to happen" such as waiting for the teacher to hand out materials, for the bell to go home, or for the teacher and the education system to keep up with change. "Only when teachers are willing to change can education be truly revolutionary," he added.

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