iSchool Faculty Members Provide Technology Training to Vietnamese Social Work Educators


As a leader in education technology, the School of Information at San José State University (SJSU) is perfectly positioned to help with the Social Work Education Enhancement Program (SWEEP) developed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in cooperation with SJSU to address the growing challenges facing the social welfare infrastructure in Vietnam.

From March 2 to March 20, 2015, prominent social work educators from eight Vietnamese universities visited the Silicon Valley campus for the SWEEP Fellows Academy II training. Dr. Sandra Hirsh, iSchool professor and director, and Debbie Faires, iSchool director of online learning, have been working with SWEEP to introduce new ways of using technological resources for education and collaboration.

According to the SWEEP website, “SWEEP is an international consortium which includes USAID, SJSU, eight universities in Vietnam, government Ministries, Cisco Systems, Inc., and community agencies and stakeholders.” SWEEP’s goal is to assist the eight Vietnamese universities in the consortium to advance social work education by improving the administration of programs, curriculum, research, and teaching. Of paramount importance as well is the promotion of “network communication among the universities through the use of improved technology,” and this is where the SJSU iSchool has been able to help SWEEP make considerable progress toward its goals.

“We are using technology to help with communication and collaboration between all of the universities in Vietnam that are members of the consortium,” said Faires. The sharing of information has been facilitated by the creation of a SWEEP website for sharing resources developed for the project, but it does not stop there. Faires explained, “We also use Cisco telepresence and WebEx for synchronous meetings to connect the partners in Vietnam and the United States.” Faires has also given presentations and training in how to use technology for effective teaching and administration.

After the SWEEP Fellows Academy at SJSU wrapped up, the participants evaluated the training program and its contribution to the SWEEP project. Faires stated, “The faculty fellows said they learned much about the different areas of focus included in the SWEEP Fellows Academy. They specifically highlighted the value of learning about competency-based education and how to apply it to their teaching.”

It is estimated that Vietnam requires approximately 10,000 professionally-trained social workers to meet the demands of 25 percent of its population for social work services. SWEEP is funded through September, 2015.