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Wayne Marriage is a Lecturer in the Accounting Department at the Saigon South Campus for RMIT Vietnam.

Thank you for taking the time to chat, Wayne.

Do you use Blackboard?

Yes I do. I use it because it’s the chosen learning management system. We use it for a number of different tasks, including Gradecentre, Blackboard Collaborate, multi choice quizzes, we use it to put up notices, and also for posting links to various government websites that are useful for students.

Do you use alternative learning technologies?

Sure! For example we use:

  • Skype (www.skype.com); Many of the student in Vietnam live quite far from the campus, and they can’t come and see me so we meet online.
  • Anymeeting (www.anymeeting.com); Doing a webinar, so to speak, with 60 -70 students at a time the system need to be robust, more so than Collaborate, so at times we use this as an alternative.
  • Google; We use all the Google tools including; forms, calendar, email, and docs.
  • Youtube (www.youtube.com); We use Youtube however we post videos to the Google drive and share it that way too.

Why are you using those alternative online tools?

It depends on the situation, in Vietnam the broadband isn’t that stable and can fall over, so contingency plans are needed.  Google docs is the most stable of all of them, even if the bandwidth is bad, Google docs hangs in there.

What have you found to be the enablers and obstacles of using other technologies?

It’s all about stability here. Teaching between the Saigan and Hanoi campuses, we have an expert and a TA on campus to manage any technical issues. It’s all about contingency and backup plans.  Using Blackboard is our number one tool, but we need to use different technologies as a backup. We try different forums with students to learn about the other technologies.

Do the other technologies better support students?

I like Google, we use Google a lot, it just works, and its fairly stable. I do find Blackboard Collaborate has some issues, but Gradecentre works great, and Google just keeps on hanging in there.

Do you think that your students believe that the other tools work better than Blackboard?

The thing that our students like the most is the choice. If one tool doesn’t work, then they can use another tool. It’s not always the case that you can use Blackboard. My first choice is to start with Blackboard Collaborate, we start with it every time, then if it fails we move to Skype, or an alternative. Skype is the first backup plan for when Collaborate doesn’t work. It’s a combination of tools really. If Collaborate falls, we can still use the chat function. Google docs has managed to keep going when we’ve even had massive bandwidth fails. Bandwidth issues are completely out of our control here in Vietnam, at the end of the day, bandwidth issues are unscheduled and we don’t have control over the bandwidth, hence having plan B. Even in Australia I would have a plan B if the bandwidth failed.

How do you use the alternative tools?

The tools we use are free, we try and use things that are of low-cost, preferably free.

Working in Vietnam I don’t believe we have restrictions in the tools we use. There can be some restrictions from time to time on Facebook, I don’t think I can get Twitter where I live.  Some lecturers here do use Facebook and Twitter. I tend to stick with the tried and tested. The student feedback has always been good about the technology I use in the course.

I do feel sorry for learning and teaching as there are many educational technologies that people like to experiment with, and you can’t support everything so that’s an interesting conundrum.

Interviewed by Erika Beljaars-Harris

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