Leading and learning
Vo Trung Hung
“What I have learned from the INNOTECH staff’s commitment to excellence, orientation to detail, and professionalism in organizing these meetings, I have gradually applied in some way in the University Council meetings of the University of Danang.”
The first time I came across SEAMEO INNOTECH as an organization was in 2017 through the introduction of a friend, Professor Bui Van Ga, the Vice Minister of the Ministry of Education and Training of Vietnam at that time.
What I knew about INNOTECH was limited to online searches through which I learned of the organization’s work in the areas of research, training, and knowledge transfer. I thought its work was so close to my own and was suitable for my area of expertise. I graduated with a PhD in Computer Science and participated in developing and implementing technical solutions and software applications in educational innovation. I especially focused on online training systems and artificial intelligence (AI)-based applications in education.
It was the recommendation of Professor Bui that set me on a life-changing journey with INNOTECH. I was very surprised when I learned about it that I had to look up and read a lot of information available online. I have agreed to join the SEAMEO INNOTECH Governing Board and was elected Chairman for three years from 2017-2019. As Chairman, I presided over annual meetings and participated in several activities organized by INNOTECH.
My time as Chairman allowed me to see and celebrate INNOTECH’s important contributions to the development of education in Southeast Asia. First, through its body of work in research on the competency frameworks for school heads and teachers. These standards have gradually become a reliable guide by which countries are able to measure their standards against and inform them of opportunities for growth for their educational leaders and teaching force. In Vietnam, we have started to contextualize these standards and apply them to our own system.
Second, INNOTECH is known for its training programs for teachers, leaders, and school heads that have significantly contributed in improving the quality of educational staff. Different countries in Southeast Asia, especially Vietnam, have sent many of their staff to these programs and brought home with them new tools and an optimistic mindset to effect positive change.
In 2019, I was fortunate to have participated in an Open Space Technology conversation on the Future of Learning which allowed me to interact with different leaders from across the 11 Ministries of Education in Southeast Asia.
Third, the online systems developed by INNOTECH allowed the management and implementation of online training courses, which made possible organizing accessible and useful online refresher courses. To cite an example, the Vietnam National Institute of Educational Sciences (VNIES) has cooperated with the Center to develop a teacher training course through its learning management system. This helps save costs and provide a rich experience for learners who want to learn.
Fourth, INNOTECH regularly organizes fora on educational innovation. Through these events, we can establish networks of organizations and experts in Southeast Asia.
One event I look forward to each year and end up not forgetting is the annual Governing Board meeting. It is where representatives of Southeast Asian countries, bringing with them their own perspectives and understanding of the global development trends, would meet, share, discuss, and propose solutions that would improve education in the region. It is imperative that we look at what might be suitable for each country’s unique and specific conditions.
Through these meetings, I was able to pick up some practices and ideas which I did not hesitate to apply in the university where I work in Danang, Vietnam. I was brought to the realization that coming together regularly helps us become more effective and strategic. Furthermore, how we gather data and facilitate the conversation allows for clearer understanding of roles and effectiveness in fulfilling duties. What I have learned from the INNOTECH staff’s commitment to excellence, orientation to detail, and professionalism in organizing these meetings, I have gradually applied in some way in the University Council meetings of the University of Danang.
As my chairmanship has now ended, I keep very high hopes for INNOTECH. I look forward to it making important contributions to technology and application development in education, teaching, and learning in Southeast Asia. We have now transitioned into the Fourth Industrial Revolution where information technology and new technologies such as AI, Internet of Things, cloud computing, and 5G networks will determine the future of education and socio-economic development. I trust that an innovation hub like SEAMEO INNOTECH will take significant efforts in shaping education in the region for years to come.