MTI Report December 2015
I would to take the change at this end of the year 2015 to give you this little report on MTI Vietnam for the year 2015.
This year 2015 has been a very busy year as we tried to address an important issue, that of the computer literacy of the students. As you may well remember, the mission of our Bible school is to train pastors and church leaders so they might be able to understand the Bible and preach the Gospel and then plant churches. We currently have 2 centers in the 2 major cities of Vietnam, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city. Through we can reach the people of the cities, we cannot reach the people living in the provinces.
The solution to do is is to make us of the internet technologies to reach out to those provinces. But the major challenge is that of the computer literacy: most people over 30 years of age in Vietnam have never touched a computer. And so this past year we tried overcome this issue by learning and investing in the use of the latest educational technologies with Google applications and Chromebooks. And at the end of this year, we have achieved the major milestone to adopt successfully those tools, allowing us to break out into a new phase of our school.
We could summarize the life of MTI up until now as having 3 phases:
- 2007-2010: the Foundation period
- 2011-2014: the Consolidation period
- 2015-onward: the Leap Forward
Phase 1 was the most important for it provided the strong foundation on which the school will forever rest: creation of the Board, the school’s constitution, the creation of the offering (the curriculum, teachers, and classes), the promotion of the school to gather students, and the joining of MTI on the international scene with MTI becoming a member of the Asia Pacific Theological Association (APTA). All classes were taught traditionally in classrooms, with no use of technology apart from Powerpoint. Teachers had to teach each course twice, or even 3 times at some times. This period was also marked by turbulences as the new school evolved in a Communist environment still reluctant toward Christianity, which made the school move to new locations 2 times; the school eventually landed into a Catholic church, thus benefitting from its legal protection. Most of the student in this period were pastors who never had the chance to get Biblically trained before.
In phase 2, MTI Vietnam introduced the use of videoconferencing technology by connecting the 2 main campuses, MTI Saigon and MTI Hanoi, with high speed internet, thus allowing online classrooms via video conferencing. This new connection allowed to make the 2 classes become as one with the need for only 1 teacher for each course. Also a new academic dean, Ps Minh took over the daily operations. In this period, students were a mix of pastors, church leaders, and normal believers who answered God’s call for ministry.
We have entered the third phase gradually over the year 2015 as MTI completely adopted educational technologies mainly powered by Google Applications For Education (GAFE). In order to do this, I (Laurent the principal) had to study for the past 2 year the world of educational technologies and eventually took and passed the Google Certified Educator certification (both levels 1 and 2) in order to master the Google tools.
The Google Certified Educator certification
And in parallel I applied to Google so that our school MTI Vietnam may be recognized as an educational institution and might be granted the right to use the GAFE set of tools. Basically GAFE is a set of Google tools including email, Google Drive, Office applications, and most importantly the Google Classroom portal. This portal is a powerful Learning Management System (LMS) similar to Moodle. The change was significant for both the school and the students.
Information on Google of Education tools on www.google.com/edu
For the students, the change was tremendous as some of them had never touched a computer in their life. let us imagine somebody learning to type on a computer, and plus with Vietnamese accents. A lot of training was necessary (I had to train the staff, who then taught the students).
MTI Saigon class on Galatians taught by teacher Rick Jory (Doctor of Ministry candidate and former CEO of Sandhill Scientific) in May 2015
MTI Saigon class picture
Another class taught by teacher Rick Jory in October 2015 (USA), but from the MTI Hanoi
Lunch time in MTI Saigon
How the students in Saigon could see Ps Joshua teaching Leadership from Hanoi
Hanoi students taking the online test on their smartphones or tablets, before MTI introduced the Chromebooks.
Class picture of MTI Hanoi
Pictures of Ps Gunnar Swahn and Ps Lean Tellebo for Filadelfia church in Sweden visiting MTI Saigon
The Google Classroom portal for the course on Romans
Sample of an online test using Google Forms and Google Classroom
And adding to this, we had to invest in Chromebooks so that students have computers to use. As a reminder, Chromebooks are new kinds of laptops based on the GAFE set of tools, rather than Windows. They have the advantage of being cheaper than regular laptops and easier to use (for as with the iPad, there are many fences and limitations, limiting the students also to the Google tools, which is what they need). Finding those Chromebooks was as great challenge for they are not sold officially in Vietnam, and are only imported by individuals (at a higher cost of course) and sold on a Vietnamese equivalent to eBay.com. The decision to purchase 10 Chromebooks was maybe not the most financially wise as the MTI finances became critically low, but I firmly believe that it was necessary for the future of MTI.
Pastor Se (chairman, on the right) and Lan (IT manager, left) with the new Chromebooks for MTI Vietnam
The MTI Hanoi class with students using Chromebooks later in the year
Students in Saigon struggling to use the Chromebook to do their exam
As of end of 2015, the students are now all more less able to use the computer and we have secured MTI’s competency in using online tools. Even among APTA schools, we are now forerunners in eLearning, as other APTA schools (like Asia Pacific Theological Seminary) have shown interest in inviting me to teach them how to adopt educational technologies.
And lastly, last November, we even went a level higher as I was able to teach the first 100% online class from France. This means that we had a 3 way connection, with me teaching from my house in Paris and the 2 MTI classes in Saigon and Hanoi. Despite the 11,000 km of distance, there was absolutely no lag. The only difficulty was for me to teach from 3 am to noon, because of the time difference. Teaching that way was tremendously tiring for me physically (1 hour of sleep and an afternoon nap). But by God’s grace we were able to finish the class.
The 3-way conferencing class from France, teaching to the 2 centers in Saigon and Hanoi
Teaching Hermeneutics 1 from my home studio in Paris last November 2015: 3 screens were used: 1 for seeing the 2 classes, 1 for seeing my notes, and 1 iPad for projecting to the students.
All those milestones are significant for MTI because:
- MTI has mastered the use of the latest educational technologies at a significantly lower cost than the budget used in Western universities
- We have taught the students how to use computers, thus answering the issue of computer literacy (and overcoming the computer literacy is a requirement in order to overcome a 2nd issue, that of English literacy, which would open up to a whole theological and academic world)
- MTI has created a model of learning which can be replicated. This means that it will be technically easy to open as many learning centers as desired throughout Vietnam with simple means such as a laptop, a fast internet connection, a large TV screen TV, and a few Chromebooks.
- We have dematerialized the classroom, so that the teachers and students no longer need to be sitting together in the same classroom. A teacher may go indifferently to either center to teach, or even teach from abroad (Canada, Sweden, USA, …) provided that the internet connection is fast enough on the teacher’s side.
For this upcoming year 2016, we are expecting both hopes and challenge. The challenge is that Pastor Minh, the academic dean, requested to take on long-term leave for health reasons. And the hopes are the possibility to open new centers; we have 3 candidate centers in the North Vietnam, with Quang Ninh being the first objective.
Our first target center for 2016: Quang Ninh
Below are some pictures of Quang Ninh city which is 180 km away from the capital Hanoi (North Vietnam).
Please let help us pray that God will open the doors for MTI to train pastors and church leaders for the city of Quang Ninh and its province.
When looking back at the year 2015, I can only be thankful to God and to your help and prayers for all those good things to happen.
The team and students of MTI Vietnam stand together to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2016.
May God bless you abundantly.
Master’s Theological Institute Vietnam