SJSU SLIS Faculty Members Visit Vietnam National University to Explore Options for Introducing Online Learning


Two faculty members from the San José State University School of Library and Information Science (SJSU SLIS) recently traveled to Vietnam, meeting with leaders from Vietnam National University (VNU) to discuss next steps in a collaboration aimed at helping VNU explore online learning opportunities.

Two years ago, the grant-funded collaboration was launched, bringing the SJSU information school’s expertise in online learning to VNU leaders who wanted to explore options for adding online courses to the university’s existing degree programs for librarians and social workers. Dr. Sandra Hirsh, SJSU SLIS director, and Debbie Faires, SJSU SLIS assistant director for distance learning, spent a week at VNU in Hanoi during June 2013, to deliver their report on the project’s first phase. 

While at VNU, Hirsh and Faires met with several top administrators to discuss their findings regarding the VNU’s readiness for online learning. Their findings were based on an analysis of interviews and focus groups with VNU faculty and students, as well as an assessment of VNU’s technology infrastructure. Hirsh and Faires presented their recommendations and talked about possible next steps, such as a pilot course offered online.

Pictured left to right: Pham Tien Toan (Faculty of LIS, VNU), Debbie Faires (Assistant Director for Distance Learning, SJSU SLIS), Sandy Hirsh (Director, SJSU SLIS), Nguyen Thi Kim Hoa (Dean, Faculty of Sociology, VNU), Nguyen Thi Thuy Hanh (Vice Dean, Faculty of LIS, VNU), Nguyen Thi Thu Ha (Vice Dean, Faculty of Sociology, VNU), Dang Kim Khanh Ly (Faculty of Sociology, VNU)

VNU is “just entering the world of online education,” Faires said. She expects the university will first move to “hybrid” classes that blend online tools with class meetings on campus. Once some online classes have been developed and assessed, then “development of an online program would be a possibility,” she said.

Hirsh felt the June meetings were very successful. “The people we met with are enthusiastic about developing online courses, and we found that their technology infrastructure makes the ability to teach online a real possibility,” she said. “We discussed next steps and how we could continue to expand our collaboration.”

During their June visit, Hirsh and Faires also traveled to VNU’s campus in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, to meet with college officials there. They talked about their work at the Hanoi campus and explored ideas for future collaboration on projects related to online learning.

“We would love to return and do more work with the people we’ve met,” Faires said. “It’s been amazing to see their progress since we started our work with them two years ago. They are excited to move forward, and we would be happy to share our expertise with them as they develop their online presence.”

Hirsh and Faires made their first visit to VNU in February 2011, along with Dr. Alice Hines, another collaborator on the project and the former director of the San José State University School of Social Work. Both visits, as well as the research done to develop the report to VNU, were funded by a grant from the College of Applied Sciences and Arts at San José State University.