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On August 5th, 2019, the Adaptive Learning Prototype project launched its first pilot class at five 7th grade math classes at the Olympia Schools in Hanoi. The Adaptive Learning Prototype project is funded by DIFD and implemented by the Education Commission and Arizona State University. The pilot run at the Olympia Schools addresses the major challenges of Vietnam’s STEM education workforce by re-thinking and re-designing the current education workforce to integrate adaptive learning approaches. Adaptive learning encompasses both integrating personalized learning methods and technologies into lesson plans and learning environments.

Project staff and teachers discuss ways to utilize active learning approach

Through the hybrid “High-Touch, High-Tech” adaptive learning model developed by ASU experts, Vietnamese educators in the pilot were prepared to facilitate each student through the ALEKS computer-based personalized learning process. 

According to Ms. Dang Thu Huong, Vice Principal, The Olympia Schools, ALEKS plays a role as a close friend of the 7th-grade math teachers and students at the school. The compatible curriculum and timely support for students helped them improve their computing skills significantly, increasing their interest in learning math.

“For teachers, ALEKS is a great teaching support tool, teachers can accurately monitor the learning process of each student at home, thereby providing the best orientation for teaching and learning in class,” Ms. Huong shared.

Students at The Olympia Schools do the ALEKS Initial Knowledge Check

At the beginning of each pilot class, the teachers conducted the ALEKS Initial Knowledge Check. While running the knowledge check, the teachers were able to identify which students need help and which topics the students need the teacher’s support. With this data, the teachers can tailor their help to meet each student’s needs. Teachers can help their students thoroughly address their trouble areas before they take their exams. With specific support, students become master learners rather than master exam takers. 

“ALEKS is an effective tool for teaching and learning math, especially for differentiated teaching,” said Ms. Nguyen Ha Linh, Teacher in Mathematics, The Olympia Schools. ALEKS initial and regular knowledge checks help teachers identify each student’s gaps in knowledge, and guides teachers to the appropriate support plan individually.

In the long run, when the adaptive learning approach is fully integrated into the education system, educators will gain deeper insights into individual students’ potential from the check results. These adaptive assessments allow teachers to design the teaching method and curriculum to focus on building individuals’ cognitive skills instead of exam-taking processes.

“I can see clearly that ALEKS has reduced the workload for teachers, including developing test questions and grading; while significantly increasing the effectiveness of teaching. I would be happy if the software is widely used in schools in Vietnam,” said Mr. Tran Minh Son, Teacher in Mathematics, The Olympia Schools.

Teacher helps students explore ALEKS reports and learning path

"The teachers have been working hard during the past six months to prepare for this implementation of innovative educational technology," said Mr. Dale Johnson, Director of the Adaptive Learning Project. 

Through the observation of the first math lesson on ALEKS of The Olympia Schools, Dr. Cristal Ngo, instructional designer of the project, found that there are about 30% of the students constantly asked questions regarding the content and technical terms. “Thanks to some students taking care of themselves, the teachers had time to directly guide others who need help while doing the initial knowledge check. This explanation would also benefit other students as well,” said Dr. Cristal Ngo, Instructional Designer of the Adaptive Learning Project. 

“I really like ALEKS because ALEKS helps me learn better in math, with a user-friendly interface and easy to use.” (Do Thai Toan, student, class 7M2.2)

“ALEKS helps me master the knowledge since I can relearn parts of uncertain knowledge and skills through the system’s explanation part.” (Nguyen Thuan An, student, class 7M2.1)

“ALEKS helps me improve my math skills and helps me understand lessons in class because I can study the lesson at home before class. In addition, you also learn how to effectively manage your study time and homework through the use of ALEKS.” (Le Nguyen Thao, student, class 7M2.1)

The Adaptive Learning Prototype project engages fifteen 7th grade math classes from four secondary schools in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The pilot brought the adaptive learning approach to 484 students in its pilot schools. 

By the end of the pilot in late 2019, Vietnam will have gathered data from the STEM Workforce research and the adaptive 7th-grade math prototype to reconsider the education workforce needed for STEM at the secondary school level. The project aims to encourage the development of a revised education workforce design - taking into account the role of technology to insure effective learning outcomes for students.  The adaptive learning approach could impact educational quality in rural and disadvantaged populations that are working to provide both educational access and success for every child.

About Adaptive Learning Prototype Project

Adaptive learning is the delivery of custom learning experiences that address the unique needs of an individual student through just-in-time feedback, pathways and resources rather than providing a one-size-fits-all lecture learning experience. The technology solutions had brought in the digitally enhanced STEM curricula, scalable, in-service and pre-service training, which then allow the educators to organize interactive problem-based solving in-class activities, especially for difficult STEM subjects like mathematics. 

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Vientiane, Lao PDR, July 30th, 2019 – Funded by the U.S. State Department, the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) and implementing partner Arizona State University launched year two of the LMI Young Scientist Program. This year’s program is “Public Health & Bioinformatics: Using Information Technologies to Address Public Health Challenges brought by Vector-Borne Diseases in the Lower Mekong Region.” 

“The LMI Young Scientist Program is a great example of how science diplomacy programs can convene multi-country researchers and scientists to develop professional relationships for collaborative projects, but also convene around common problems in their countries with linkages to U.S. counterparts and programs,” said Jeffrey Goss, PI and Associate Vice Provost of SE Asia for ASU. 

On July 1st, 2019, the opening ceremony was launched at the National University of Laos (NUOL) with remarks from the Honorable Rena Bitter, U.S Ambassadorto Lao PDR; Assoc. Prof. Khamphoui Southisombath, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at NUOL; and Assoc. Prof. Mayfong Mayxay, Vice President of the University of Health Sciences. The program includes participation of 33 early-career scientists and researchers from the five LMI member countries: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

To achieve the creation of a scientific research community for the young scholars in LMI member countries, the Young Scientist Program includes the following activities: a Four-week Technical Program, an Annual Scientific Symposium, and a Seed Grant Competition as illustrated in the following timeline:

About the LMI Four-week Technical Program

Hosted by the NUOL, the LMI Young Scientist Program focused on the delivery of skill-building workshops. These workshops were aimed at enabling participants to work on multidisciplinary projects using information technology, computer science, and bioinformatics toward research initiatives and new technology development to address public health challenges in the Lower Mekong region.

The focus of the first week was to introduce participants to the main public health issues regarding vector borne diseases and current regional programs to combat these issues. The second week included a “Design Thinking” workshop, led by experts from the School of Global Studies, Thammasat University, Thailand.

Mr. Hermes Huang, Lecturer from Thammasat University, works closely and guides participants through Design Thinking process.

During the workshop, the young scientists were introduced to the human-centered design methodology – an iterative process seeking to understand final users, challenge assumptions; then re-defining problems in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions, which was not intially apparent.

"Design Thinking provides a solution-based approach to solving problems; it is a way of thinking and working as well as a collection of hands-on methods," Mr. Hermes Huang, Lecturer at School of Global Studies, Thammasat University, Thailand.

The scientists were also invited to the Pasteur Institute of Laos to attend a mosquito identification workshop at the entomology lab and learn from the experts on innovative traps to reduce the population of disease-carrying mosquitoes.

As an outcome of the second week, the Scientists were grouped into six teams. Each team was encouraged to use design thinking models, computational methods and information technologies to clearly define and propose solutions for public health challenges in the Lower Mekong Region caused by vector borne diseases.

A team, from Thailand, Vietnam and Laos from, is working on an activity using post-it notes to help visualize, quickly brainstorm and carefully examines the ideas for their projects; also, clearly define what has potential and might not work.

Scientist analyze different species of mosquitoes at their different stages in their life-cycle at the Entomology lab of the Pasteur Institute of Laos.

The week concluded with a field trip to the Lao province of Savannakhet where the Young Scientists visited the Provincial Health Offices, Department of Communicable Disease Control. The participants conducted field work at the Tonhen Village, Xaybouly Districtto follow up with patients sufferring from dengue feverand participated inmosquito and larvae collection activities. These mosquito and larvae samples were then analyzed at the entomology lab in Savannakhet to identify the species of mosquitoes found in the village.

“I have been working in public health area, and my works have had its focus just on immunization. I had no idea about the severity of Dengue outbreak in Lao before I joined the program. LMI open my perspectives on a very importance issues such as vector borne diseases control and prevention. I got to meet brilliant entomologist from Cambodia and learned from them how to identify mosquitos. And I got to meet a mathematician from Thailand who taught me the principle of machine learning,” Ms. Souliya Channavong from Laos, specialized in Epidemiology, Michigan State University, recalled and shared her experiences about the memorable field trip to Savannakhet.

Vannida from Laos and Duy from Vietnam review the data collection log.

Xaythavy Louangvilay from Laos is testing the mosquito collection tool.

For the third week, the program focused on building 21st century professional skills, such as: running effective meetings, interpersonal communications, design of experiments, team optimization, presentation skills, critical thinking and conflict resolution. 

Mr. Robert Schoenfeld from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University delivered a 4-day 21st Century Skills workshop during the LMI Young Scientists program.

The week also included a field trip to the Mahosot Hospital to visit the microbiology and virology labs to learn about laboratory methods to identify dengue and other infectious diseases through techniques such as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

Dr. Sayaphet Rattanavong from the microbiology laboratory at the Mahosot Hospital shows how they use PCR to diagnose dengue at the lab

The fourth and final week of the program was dedicated for the six multidisciplinary and transnational teams to put their knowledge and skills learned into practice through working on applied projects. At the closing ceremony, seven prototypes – seven solutions using information technologies to address public health challenges brought by vector-borne diseases in the Lower Mekong Region was showcased during the poster session. 

33 Young Scientists from the five lower Mekong countries

During the ceremony, Mr. Songyos Rajborirug from Thailand, Ph.D. Graduate, specialized in Epimiology, Prince of Songkla University, shared his thoughts,

“The LMI program gives me both the opportunities to learn things that could not be learned in school or universities and the opportunities to meet with cool people which could not be met easily in everyday life. The skills such as design thinking and professionalism will undoubtedly help me in organizing work, and people in my organization; while the connection I got would open the possibility of future collaboration among fellows of the LMI Program.”

“Our goal of developing early-career researchers to grow academically and professionally was accomplished again this year. The 33 participants from the five LMI member countries have demonstrated their capabilities to use computational models and information technologies to address public health challenges caused by vector-borne diseases; we are really proud of our young scientists,” Mr. Jose Quiroga, Director, LMI Young Scientist Program. 

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Engineering students: Is your dream for after graduation to use your know-how to solve global issues with opportunities like Engineers Without Borders or Habitat

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During STEMCON 2019, hosted in Danang on March 14 & 15, six outstanding Vietnamese female students received an

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