We’ve all heard that left-brain thinkers are meant to be good at math, science, and logical thinking but lacking imagination. Those described as right-brain thinkers, on the other hand, are lauded for their creative genius yet told that their work is not rooted in reality.
If this theory were true, how do you explain the phenomenon of Leonardo Da Vinci, who famously was an extraordinary painter, surgeon, inventor, and a brilliant party planner to boot? While admittedly Da Vinci’s might be a one-in-a-million story, his case proves that it is possible to achieve mastery in both arts and sciences.
Today, many experts in the field of education believe that treating STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and art studies as mutually exclusive is wrong. Hence the emergence of voices calling out for “A” as in “Arts” to be added to turn STEM into STEAM.
To learn more about STEAM’s potential, we catch up with Dao Lan Huong, the Founder and Chairman of the Board at Teky, the first creative technology institution offering an American STEAM-based curriculum in Vietnam. We talked about Teky’s innovation in the classroom and how the uptake of EdTech can be a boon for Vietnam’s students.
So, what is STEAM education?
The term STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. It is a modern learning approach that involves integrating and applying knowledge from the five subjects to equip today’s students with coherent and practical tools.
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What makes Teky stand out when it comes to STEAM education?
Teky’s strengths are continuous innovation and the adoption of top-notch technology in teaching computer literacy. We are also known for ensuring our students are able to apply that knowledge in a number of ways in the future, hence the decision to make STEAM part of Teky's EdTech program.
By placing the students at the center of the learning environment, we are able to engage them and ignite the passion for technology within each one of them. On top of that, the role of teachers is not limited to giving lessons but also includes coaching students in the practical implementation of their ideas. Thanks to this novel teaching approach, Teky is well placed to deliver core skills to today’s young people.
Our efforts were recognized this past January when Teky was named as one of the 16 schools of the Future by the Davos 2020 World Economic Forum in Geneva, Switzerland. We’re very proud and humbled to be recognized as a Vietnamese representative contributing to the educational innovation movement.
How did Teky tackle the pandemic and its negative effects on the traditional school system?
At the start of the pandemic, we decided to move all of our operation and business activities online, while simultaneously building a post-covid curriculum and focusing on lesson planning, personnel training, and technology platform development.
As was the case with many companies, the pandemic became a test for us. Luckily, Teky’s corporate culture passed it with flying colors. We managed to adapt to constant change by making adjustments to business plans on a daily basis. With all hands on deck, Teky’s team is committed to making our company grow even stronger in the future, despite the hardships of the past months.
What are the hurdles that Teky faces when conducting STEAM lessons online?
Interdisciplinary (or multi-subject) learning requires a wider range of digitized materials and a variety of teaching tools such as robotics and 3D printing. For that reason, some subjects are easier to teach online than others.
High-tech equipment and a stable internet connection are crucial when teaching STEAM lessons. With students who do not have access to these resources at home, our teachers always try their best to find ways to work around these limitations to achieve their objectives.
Another challenge when it comes to Edtech is that offline lessons cannot be transferred seamlessly to the online environment. It took many modifications to arrive at our current adaptive program that is highly successful at keeping students, specifically young learners, engaged.
What STEAM-related feedback have you been getting now that the pandemic is under control in Vietnam?
In the post-pandemic setting, we have received lots of positive comments from parents. In fact, students enrolled in our online courses are actually performing better than those in offline classes. According to the parents we’ve spoken to, online lessons have multiple benefits: they allow children to interact with teachers and friends; encourage them to work on projects; and help alleviate boredom when home-schooled. Some went as far as learning to code and finding real-life applications for their ideas. That’s why I strongly believe online STEAM education has a huge potential.
Why did you choose ClassIn as a partner for your online program?
We were amazed by ClassIn’s collection of diverse and sophisticated tools designed to recreate an offline classroom experience for an immersive and creative learning environment. Unlike other video conferencing applications, ClassIn actually keeps students engaged. In addition, thanks to the multidimensional reporting system, ClassIn has been a great help in lesson planning and teaching quality evaluation.
An online class of ClassIn at Teky
How is “collaboration”, one of four core skills Teky aims to train its students, utilized in the online learning environment?
In order to maximize collaboration among students, teachers are expected to adjust teaching methods, continuously update teaching materials, and try out a variety of problem-solving techniques. Thanks to ClassIn’s amazing tools, students have more time to experiment and work on projects together under the teacher’s guidance. At the same time, they are able to join many types of collaborative games and activities just like they would do in a traditional classroom.
What would you say about the prospects of STEAM online education in the near future?
In my opinion, there are four possible scenarios for STEAM specifically, and education in general:
- Complete digitization of STEAM content;
- The emergence of new classroom models: as uptake grows, EdTech platforms will have more room for bold experimentation and growth.
- Rise of the OMO (online-merge-offline) classroom: teachers will stream online lessons while teaching in a physical classroom.
- Widespread application of advanced technologies in STEAM education such as AR/VR, 3D, AI, robotics, etc.
What role will the virtual classroom play in the future of Teky?
In 2021, our vision is to become one of the leading Edtech institutions in Vietnam. Teky will continue investing in digitization and platform upgrades, building innovative tools for K-12 education in STEM and other subjects, as well as tapping advanced technologies allowing us to contribute to the development of Vietnam’s education system.
This English edition is adapted by L A M.