SEEDING A LEARNING COMMUNITY: Tien Ho Takes the Lead in Building a Community of Practice for Innovative Education

Instructor of the month Then Ho

“If we want fruits and flowers, we must ensure that the soil is fertilized and ready for the seeds to grow,” said Tien Ho, instructor and administrator at Hue Industrial College (HueIC), Vietnam. “We need to create spaces and communities for learning to flourish in order to foster a generation of young people who thrive in the workforce.”


Preparing the Soil

Our MS2W instructor of the month features Tien Ho, passionate instructor, Head of Soft Skills Department, and Director of Soft Skills, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Training Center at HueIC. She exudes contagious excitement to equip both youth and educators in her institution and beyond with the skills they need to thrive in their careers.

She sees instructors as one of the most significant players in preparing youth for the future. Tien Ho also believes that this is not a job for one person, but a collective paradigm shift which requires collaboration across different departments, institutions, and countries.

Selecting the Seeds

In order for this cooperation to happen, she reached out to the MS2W Network of like-minded individuals to deepen connections of instructors from other institutions, sharing lessons learned and best practices.

“The key is to identify people who are also looking towards the same vision, who would be open to changes, and who would be most challenging to convince,” said Tien Ho. “We chose our champions to lead best practices and to set a standard for the community. We help each other and guide our champions to spread what they have learned from the MS2W model.”

Creating Communities

“Tien Ho and I met at the first MS2W Leadership Summit in 2015 and we’ve been in touch. It’s great to have someone to share how to best conduct work-based learning experiences for our students, and balancing work-life balance as women in STEM with family duties,” said Lan Anh, an instructor from Hanoi University of Science and Technology, Vietnam. “Having this community both in your own institution and in other Mekong Learning Centers is crucial for the model to last.”

Let’s Grow!

In order to ensure sustainability, Tien Ho and the administration at HueIC launched a strategy to encourage instructors to apply the MS2W model in more classes and inspired others to do the same.

“For the pioneers [lead instructors], one teaching hour using the MS2W toolkits will be calculated as 1.5 hours at HueIC - meaning extra incentives for instructors to apply the model in more classes,” Tien Ho explained. “This method helped the MS2W to grow quickly across the institution, beyond a specific department or a faculty. Any faculty member can join the community.”

“We expanded from four lead instructors to sixteen instructors. Meaning one lead instructor of the MS2W model trains four new instructors, sharing the mindsets and methods of the MS2W Toolkits.” This systemic expansion allows for twenty instructors being equipped with the MS2W innovative learning models before expanding.

“The most impressive part is that Tien Ho and her peers in the [MekongSkills2Work] Network designed this sustainable and scalable expansion process at the beginning of the program,” said Dr. Kenneth Bartlett, professor and organization development expert from the University of Minnesota, USA. “This is very rare for most development projects, where thoughts on how to make changes sustainable usually comes at the end.”

Strengthening Support

“We also get good support from our leaders [in HueIC],” Tien Ho added. “We communicated with our leaders, making them see how important this preparation of the students is, and invited them to join our Community of Practice.”

The MS2W Network encourages not only instructors and administrators to participate in the Community of Practice, but also members at the management level. “Multidisciplinary collaboration between different faculties and industry partners also allow for cross-pollinations of ideas that we couldn’t have imagined before!” Tien Ho added. “That adds both depth and breadth.”

Make it Flourish!

“We learn as a team, giving feedback and advice to each other, solving problems together,” said Tien Ho. “Together, instructors, administrators, and the private sector creates the right environment that can allow real learning to flourish – both for us to grow professionally, and for us to help our students succeed in the world of work.”