How One Passionate Educator is Using Real-World Experience to Create More Culturally Relevant Learning for Vietnamese Students

Caroline Kurdej
Post by Caroline Kurdej
January 12, 2021
How One Passionate Educator is Using Real-World Experience to Create More Culturally Relevant Learning for Vietnamese Students

“You’re talking about a totally different world,” David Knock said. He has firsthand experience instructing high school and college students in Vietnam with limited learning resources.

Educators are at the mercy of their instructional tools. No one knows this better than Knock, one of our most active users with a handful of projects on the CapsimInbox Authoring Platform. Knock started as a lecturer in Accounting but spent most of his time as Program Manager in Accountancy. He was tasked to introduce and develop the Bachelor of Business in Accountancy program at RMIT Vietnam University. 

He’s aware of the need for more relevant and contextualized learning in the Eastern world. And he’s committed to making it happen. Knock is trying to change the traditional approach to education with the CapsimInbox Authoring Platform.

We wanted to see how Knock’s building process was going. After facing student engagement challenges with the existing approach, he’s leveraging CapsimInbox as a vehicle to drive high school and university-level students toward success with culturally-relevant experiences. 

Every educator wants to give their students a meaningful experience to instill the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed at the next level. But for an instructor to be successful, they need to provide relevant content in a relatable context.

While this is a problem for many educators in the ‘Western World,’ Knock said it’s an even more significant challenge in Vietnam. 

“The original CapsimInbox was American, it was written with an American context, and it was for Americans,” Knock said. 

He realized the need for engaging and personalized content relevant to the country of instructing origin.

David Knock delivers soft skills to Vietnamese students with CapsimInbox to satiate their hunger for future success.

After teaching as Senior Lecturer and Program Manager at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) Vietnam for 14 years, Knock transitioned his focus to join his wife’s company. He’s now the Director and Lead Facilitator at EDCentral, where he works with students, working professionals, and corporate clients. Knock provides relevant and topical business training and engages participants in a fun, experiential, and interactive training designed to develop and solve real-life problems.

Knock shared how he used CapsimInbox as an instrument of change to create engaging teaching methods. 

Cultural-centered approaches are critical to spur creativity and prepare students for life outside of the classroom.

When you’re teaching to a classroom full of students in Vietnam, many of the individualistic and Westernized approaches may not apply. 

“In the East, it’s more consensus and more team decision-making,” Knock said. “For Vietnamese business culture, it’s very much respecting a boss or authority decision-making.”

But as more students have integrated themselves into the world at large and exchanged cultural interactions by living and studying overseas, they’ve come back and said, “We’re not doing that anymore,” Knock reflects on student feedback. 

Taking a quick scour across the internet, Knock isn’t alone. Higher Education is facing a severe crisis. The solution? Adopting ways to teach students critical and creative thinking, compelling speaking and writing skills, comprehending complex challenges, and understanding others’ perspectives. Inside Higher Ed argues academia lacks a serious culture of teaching and learning.

Simulated Learning Breaks Away from the Mold of Traditional Education Approaches.

One of the most significant challenges Knock faces is overcoming the traditional approach to education. While the value proposition in CapsimInbox is there, it’s more difficult to overcome hurdles on changing the existing system and adopting new technology.

Many of the Vietnamese students Knock works with lack quality resources. Chalkboards decorate classroom walls, instead of projectors with dancing images. University libraries may not be bigger than a cubicle. Photocopied textbooks are from decades ago. It’s common for high schools and universities to have a limited number of laptops for their student body. 

“It’s a different world,” Knock said. 

But once you get a few educators on board and willing to embrace simulation learning, “they will eventually all pile in,” Knock said. Capsim’s intuitiveness makes the learning experience worthwhile for students and professors willing to take a bet.

They “inhale and exhale in the exam room,” Knock said. “They aren’t asked to think critically.” The Inbox tool closes the gap by providing students with choices. 

“It’s novel. It’s completely new. And students have never seen anything like it,” Knock said. 

The choices provided in existing CapsimInbox microsimulations weren’t typically structured in an Eastern cultural background. Knock took the initiative and built something his students can personally relate to in an authentic and familiar context—a hierarchical structure with a stronger team emphasis. 

Instead of throwing students into a corporate office situation, they introduce them to organizing a school camp, something they attended during their final year of high school.

The science of learning tells us it’s easier to breach students’ learning in the classroom with familiar technology as a vehicle. That’s why Capsim created a tool that most can recognize: email inboxes. Knock was attracted to CapsimInbox because email inboxes are a recognizable tool to everyone–a more approachable way to introduce students to technology.

Educator-Turned Business Leader Takes on a New Challenge: Integrating a New Teaching Model into Outdated Classrooms

David Knock is an Australian CPA with postgraduate qualifications in Applied Finance, TESOL, and Adult Education with over 30 years’ experience working in various industries, including hospitality, vocational education, manufacturing, government, and academia. The possibilities for his CapsimInbox versions are endless. 

Knock and his team have been toying with the specs and opportunities CapsimInbox has to offer. Right now, the various Inbox versions are works in progress. As someone who considers himself a “commercial person,” and not nearly as much an academic, “you’ve got a lot of experience in war stories,” Knock said. “Trying to grab a scenario and then adapt to teasing out a particular skill or set of skills… that comes with time.” 

Soft Skills Keeps the Idling Tank Running

Knock’s firsthand experience from teaching in Vietnam revealed many things. Among them, recognized the dire need for soft skill development.

“One thing that came up a number of times,” Knock said, “the Universities, and the education system, are starting to look at soft skills as a viable and necessary component of education.” 

Skills are the foundation of simulations–and learning. Throughout Knock’s simulations are a fundamental set of skills tested: problem-solving, organizing, leadership, initiative, and communication. Depending on his audience, he adopts the skillset and integrates additional ones, including adaptability and teamwork. 

When it comes to contexts of situations, those are the variables that change. Young professionals two or three years out of university “realize their degree is running out of gas,” Knock said. These simulations help students update and hone soft skill development — assets employers increasingly search for in recent graduates.

The ultimate aim is to help students define skills in specific fields, find a major, and excel in that field of study. Most students move into career paths based on word of mouth or following in their parents’ footsteps.

“They’re really hungry for anything that gives them a bit of a clue as to where to go,” Knock said. 

A tool like CapsimInbox addresses the gap between self-awareness and competency with the resources they need to prepare themselves for a better future in a setting that parallels the real world. 

David Knock’s Approach to Building in the CapsimInbox Authoring Platform

Knock is someone who draws ideas and moves ideas around on a cognitive map.

Knock ties in his experiences in consulting services and teaching at the university-level into his simulations. As a visual person, he tries to see the scenario and builds an authentic situation around a high school or university-level audience. He taps into expertise by asking endless questions to marketing individuals, salesmen, and others with cultural expertise. Resources help make the experience more authentic and relatable to his students–artifacts in the form of realistic-looking invoices, reports, or quotes. 

“I’m like a kid in a candy store,” Knock said with a laugh, “I want to grab and indulge.” 

Knock is looking forward to continuing building a suite of CapsimInbox versions he’s working on, with the hopes of providing his students relevant and engaging experiences. The aim is to create an ecosystem for high school students to prepare for university and upgrade their skills as young professionals.

The larger vision? Overcoming the barrier of outdated tools. And providing students with the engagement and development they’re yearning for.

Build Your Momentum with the CapsimInbox Authoring Platform

Is there a knowledge gap you can address in the classroom? Integrate your expertise and create a personalized platform for your students today.

Visit our CapsimInbox Authoring Platform web page to get started. 

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