• WHAT WE DO
    WHAT WE DO

    Trinh Foundation Australia works to assist the Vietnamese people to establish Speech Therapy as a profession in their country. We collaborate with our Vietnamese partners to create ...

  • VOLUNTEER
    VOLUNTEER

    You can volunteer for Trinh Foundation in a number of ways – and you don’t have to leave the country, if you don’t want to. We are always looking for volunteers, to travel to Vietnam ...

  • CURRENT WORK
    CURRENT WORK

    TFA works in partnership with a number of educational and clinical institutions throughout Vietnam to deliver on our mission of bringing speech therapy to Vietnam ...

Online Teaching Continues with Lecturer Andy Smidt

I was really pleased and excited to be asked to go to Vietnam to teach student speech and language therapists about lifelong disability and AAC. I had planned the teaching, booked my leave and even arranged to travel afterwards with my family.  Then along came COVID-19 and all plans had to change!

I worked with Lindy McAllister on a plan to transfer my teaching content to an online format. In some ways, this was easy for me because I am good at tech and have taught for the past 7 or 8 years into an entirely online masters degree. I decided to divide the teaching into three components. The first component involved providing self-directed learning (SDL) material for the students to work through in the 2 weeks prior to the first live zoom session. The second component was online zoom meetings with me to go through the content and start to apply the theory to practice. The third component was a case based approach so that we worked together on one case per day.

The self-directed learning component involved creating 14 documents called sways (part of the office suite of applications). The topics more or less related to the weekly lectures I had planned to teach live. They included disability frameworks, assessment, setting goals, intervention, behaviour management and working with communication partners. They functioned a little like an interactive textbook. I included short recorded lectures, articles to read and videos of clients to watch and discuss. There was a lot of interactivity including chat boards and quizzes. However, creating this material was far from straight-forward. Firstly, every video needed to be subtitled in Vietnamese. This involved various apps to subtitle and translate all of which then needed checking by the Vietnamese translators. There were further challenges in creating and translating self- marking quizzes that ensured that all students had covered the basic content in each sway. Multiple choice quizzes often involve subtle changes in wording which proved really challenging to create in Vietnamese and ensure that the subtle wording changes were preserved to really determine whether or not the student understood the content.

The second component involved live lectures on zoom and the final component involved case based learning.  Each case involved providing the students with referral information. Later on, the students were given assessment data to analyse, for them to set goals and plan therapy. At the end of each day, we created a PowerPoint presentation of the case. These will serve as a library of worked case examples which future therapists can access as a resource. The final exam required the students to produce a PowerPoint presentation (as we had done for each client) which was then marked.

Overall, I believe that the resources created will be valuable for the students once they qualify and work in Vietnam. They can come back to the sway documents to revise their learning. The case based approach allowed us to embed the content so that each case picked up on a range of issues (training teachers, family attitudes to disability, employment options for adults with a disability). This allowed the students to apply complex concepts to real life situations. This depth of learning is likely to better prepare them for working.

One of the significant issues for me related to situations where I needed to be mindful of cultural issues. For example, understanding where people with a disability live and work in Vietnam. To create realistic cases, I needed to understand the societal attitudes and needs in order to support students to apply my very Australian curriculum to their environment. I achieved this by co-creating the case studies. The students chose the persons  name, family, location, work or school setting.  For example, I had a client who had parents who were a doctor and a lawyer. I asked the students to create jobs for the parents and they chose the food industry. Even by naming the siblings, the students could start to visualise this person within a local context. Cultural sensitivity did not only apply to the cases but t to every interaction I had with the students. For example, I discovered that the translators not only translated the questions students were asking me but also paraphrased them and went back to the student to moderate the question if the translator felt that the question was not respectful. This was really interesting for me because I had the impression that the students were very respectful and polite in how they asked questions – not realising that the translators had often modified the wording.

Another challenge was to build a relationship with the students via zoom – and they commented on this too.  Personal engagement between students and teachers is often viewed as a key part of learning. I did not have the option to stand next to a student while ordering a drink or to chat with them at the start of a day within the zoom learning experience. One of the things I did to bridge that gap was to upload lots of photos of Australia and ask them to upload pictures of Vietnam.  We then used those pictures on the last day of learning as our zoom backgrounds so that I could “go visit” all the beautiful places in Vietnam and the students e-travelled to Sydney and to see some cute Kangaroos and Koalas. This was a small way of building closeness which I thought was really important.

Overall, I think I learned as much from the students as they learned from me.  I learned about my own values and expectations. I had a number of culturally based attitudes that I had not thought about.  One example was about a case of a 14 year old child with Down Syndrome who did not speak clearly.  One student suggested that the parents should take the child to a family gathering, perhaps for a celebration or festival.  The parents, as the experts in how the child communicates, would support the interaction and the child would have lots of opportunity to practice communicating within a safe environment. The student had come up with a culturally appropriate option for allowing the child to practice conversational skills using their extended family. I loved that the student saw the parents as the experts in their child’s communication. Another example for the same teenager with Down Syndrome was that he had a hearing loss but quite good literacy. A student asked me how the client could learn to read if he couldn’t hear. I was puzzled until we teased out the question more. I had assumed that a teenager with Down Syndrome would have a hearing aid because people with Down Syndrome often have a hearing loss and therefore I had assumed that a hearing test would have been carried out and most likely would have hearing aids. This is not the case in Vietnam and so my expectations were completely incorrect.

There were numerous other examples where students created options for the case study based on technology. For example, in Australia many of the AAC apps are used on iPads but this is not the case in Vietnam. The students went off to find alternatives using apps on their phones and so on. I learned that these students had great creativity in finding solutions that would work in Vietnam using their own experiences to guide them.

     

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