As part of an ambitious Irish Aid funded programme VIBE (Vietnam Ireland Bilateral Education Exchange) collaborators from DCU and DIT, with support from Campus Engage, have spent two weeks intensive training with lecturers, teachers in the community and community partners with the inter-disciplinary STEM and community based learning unit at the University of Science in Vietnam.
This unique Vietnamese-Irish co-operation has huge potential to enrich our learning experience while also strengthening communities and their resilience.
Participants in the training had an opportunity to develop ideas for their CBL (community based learning) projects, underpinned by CBL theory, ethos and best practice, including Irish best practice, facilitated by Joanna Ozarowska, Programme Manager at DCU in the Community.
DCU student engagement coordinator Ruth Lynam commented that “Despite language barriers, communication was great, mainly due to the commonality shared among ourselves and those who attended the training. The challenges faced by our own community partners, lecturers and students, including problems of engagement, resources and supports, are inherently similar to those encountered by our Vietnamese counterparts. The Community Based Learning (CBL) we have spoken of and presented on throughout these last two weeks has been embodied during the training with our Irish team learning just as much from the Vietnamese as they have from us."
Dr Vanessa Murphy, a lecturer in the School of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences (Dublin Institute of Technology) presented a number of case studies from Community Based Learning in STEM that have been successfully piloted and implemented in DIT. These included the “Slice of Science” and “Junior Scientist” initiatives, where undergraduate students prepare interactive activities for young people aged 8-12, in underserved communities, on a range of scientific topics. Participants were particularly interested in how they might implement similar ideas in their own teaching and were delighted to get the opportunity to try out some experiments which, as usual, turned out to be extremely entertaining and rather messy.
Head of Civic Engagement at DCU, Professor Ronnie Munck, who coordinated the bid, commented that: “ This exchange between Irish and Vietnamese higher education institutions is pioneering new ways to embed community based learning in the STEM subjects that are key to social and economic development in both countries. We have got off to a good start with huge levels of commitment and engagement by our Vietnamese partners and the vital support of Irish Aid in country”
Photos from this trip are available on our facebook page here.