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This study focuses on identifying the internal problems that schools face while managing change: building schools in the direction of a smart school. The research was a qualitative study based on the findings of evaluating written reports and assessments, as well as the content of conversations and interviews with managers and instructors from three general schools in Dong Trieu, Quang Ninh province. The research is approached as a system, with the obstacles and challenges arising from instructors, students, the pedagogical process, and the financial circumstances for investment in facilities and equipment to execute teaching and educating students in a smart classroom model.



The Industrial Revolution 4.0, along with the rapid shift in all aspects of social life, is having a significant impact on the process of education and training of the next generation. Many nations throughout the world have recognized the need for smart education formation and growth. Smart cities require smart education to teach new generations of residents to satisfy society's demands. The modifications in the school's teaching activities and student education have resulted in the school's progress toward smart schools. Smart schools are an essential component of smart education. To prepare students for the information era, smart schools are methodically reinventing teaching and learning as well as school management. Smart schools are an excellent step toward virtual and online learning, which are current kinds of learning in the twenty-first century (Kalantarnia, Rostamy, Shahvarani, Behzadi, 2012). Smart education is the greatest approach for students to study intelligently. International experience has taught us how to make the shift from traditional to smart schools. The dilemma after the attempts for change is what hurdles are offered schools in changing and developing schools into smart schools? What recommendations are available for schools to overcome the present issues and difficulties?

The main tasks of this paper are to answer following research questions: (1) How is smart school perceived? How is the process of smart school transformation and development being implemented throughout the world and in the study region of Dong Trieu town, Quang Ninh province? Difficulties resulting from global experience in the process of transforming schools into smart school models? What challenges are Vietnam's general schools now encountering in their transformation into smart schools?

This study is conducted using a qualitative technique to address the aforementioned tasks. The study reviews and looks for lessons learned from the transformation of smart schools in several nations across the world using the approach of theoretical analysis and synthesis as well as theoretical modeling. Researchers conducted case studies in Vietnam by visiting classes, held the conversations between primary and secondary school teachers and administrators to see the implementation of the teaching and learning procedure settings, focusing on the use of teaching implementation in the smart classroom model. In addition, interviews were conducted with the principal and some teachers of the school: Vinh Khe Primary School, Mao Khe II Middle School, and Hoang Quoc Viet High School. Each interview was then recorded, the time of observation and interview was carried out in September to November 2019, studying the year-end report of the schools from 2017, 2019, and 2021.


2.1. How was smart school understood?

The Smart School is an educational institution that through its teaching processes and smart educational management practices promotes systematic changes to help learners overcome the challenges posed by the information technology age (Wan Ali, Mohd and Alwi, 2009).

Smart schools put a strong emphasis on giving students access to tailored learning services, self-study possibilities and conditions, and self-control training that they may follow at their own speed (Kim et al., 2013). In addition to enabling learners to interact with learning systems whenever and wherever they want, the smart learning environment also offers flexible learning assistance, ideas, or support (Vu Thi Thuy Hang, 2018). As a result, teachers may easily keep tabs on the learning process and utilize data analysis to identify learners' issues and potential, giving them useful feedback via virtual learning dashboards using learning analysis. It is advantageous for students and teachers to gain an overview of learning activities and how students engage through visualization (Duval, 2011). Emphasizing the application of information to teaching and school operations, smart schools will seek to make learning more enjoyable, motivating, stimulating, and meaningful.

In order to promote holistic development, ensure that fundamental skills are mastered, accommodate various learning styles, improve performance, and foster an environment in the classroom that supports various teachings and learning methods, smart schools combine a variety of effective learning strategies. Learning will be more pleasurable, inspiring, exciting, and meaningful for kids thanks to the school's pedagogy. Additionally, pertaining to the student's body, spirit, and mind throughout the educational process (Sani, Zabidi & Banu, 2013). According to Gwak's (2010) proposal, smart schools offer additional learning chances and materials via gadgets and assistive technology; secondly, they effectively have the correct learning possibilities thanks to cutting-edge IT infrastructure. Although, employing smart devices shouldn't be the main emphasis of technology use in support of smart learning. Middleton (2015) also makes the implication that smart schools prioritize learning and show how students gain from using cutting-edge technology. Personal and intelligent technologies encourage learners to actively engage in their education and develop their independence in more flexible, linked, and context-rich ways. Others also attempt to highlight the characteristics of tilt intelligence.

It has been researched and numerous priorities have been identified for establishing a smart school and putting the transformation into action. Numerous facets of the notion of school change management as an organizational model have been investigated, and numerous problems have been identified: (1) The school must adapt to the changing requirements of society, particularly as it relates to information and communication technology; (2) Change must be based on acceptable principles that are both realistic and have a clear road map. (3) Barriers to change can come in different forms and at many levels. Managers should study challenges and obstacles and concentrate on removing roadblocks to effective transformation. The following concerns are the main emphasis of the conditions for effective change: (1) To be approved and supported by society; (2) To promote the internal capacity of educational institutions and schools; (3) To resolve contradiction and conflicts when implementing change; (4) To have appropriate change path; (5) To improve the capacity of change management for managers (Dang Xuan Hai, 2017).

2.2. Process of developing from traditional schools to smart schools in some countries in the world

The Smart Education, Smart Schools initiative was introduced in Malaysia as early as the 1990s (Chan, 2002), with the goal of enhancing the educational system to support the National Education Philosophy and better equip the workforce to handle the challenges of the twenty-first century. Malaysia has created a national development plan through development initiatives at all levels of education in order to create a smart school model. The following three concerns have been recognized and addressed as follows: (1) Investing in finance, facilities, and equipment of smart schools; (2) Preparing capacity and psychology for teachers, first of all, the capacity to apply information technology in teaching and effectively use smart devices; (3) Preparing software systems for teaching; (4) Building a respectful learning environment and creating optimal conditions for diverse learning solutions.

The SMART Education project has been launched in Korea with the primary goal of modernizing the educational system and enhancing the infrastructure for education (Choi and Lee 2012). Schools are interested in constructing a school development plan and fostering consensus among the forces in the school as a cohesive system, as well as the support and participation of students and parents, in addition to preparing teachers and inspiring instructors. Schools are also interested in putting policies into place and creating adaptable lesson plans to meet the requirements and learning preferences of individual students; ongoing guidance for students to adapt to and effectively use intelligent learning systems based on ICT.

With the change of education under the Smart Schools Program in New York, the emphasis is on raising student accomplishment and educating students to engage in 21st century economy. This program emphasizes the importance of incorporating technology into the classroom (Geofrey Canada et al, 2014). From the urgent need to change smart education; to the training and support of school administration personnel, the clever Education program has been organized into large stages; Schools create goals and strategies that are in line with their context and the road map; they also support teachers’ capacity in line with the road map.

In 2011, Finland also implemented a smart education project with system learning solutions (SysTech). According to Kankaanranta and Mäkelä (2014), the initiative intends to promote user-driven and motivating learning solutions for the twenty-first century. The Mohammed Bin Rashid Smart Learning Program (MBRSLP), which the United Arab Emirates (UAE) started funding in 2012, intends to create new learning environments and cultures in their national schools by introducing smart classrooms. Australia and IBM have collaborated to create a centralized, multidisciplinary educational system (IBM 2012). Their system integrates workforce development, higher education, and schools. Since 2006, Singapore has been carrying out the Smart Nation Master Plan (iN2015).

With the development of mobile, connected and personal technology, mobile learning has become a mainstream model. In contrast to traditional, static classes that are held in a physical location at a set time, mobile learning promotes the use of mobile devices and focuses on student mobility. Further modifications in learning methods that stress that learning may occur anytime, anyplace without restrictions related to time, location, or environment have also been brought about with the help of modern technology (Hwang et al. 2008, 2012). Smart education in a smart environment, Big data, cloud computing, and learning analytics all center on the collection, analysis, and use of learning data to better learning and teaching while fostering the growth of customized and adaptable learning. With these modifications in educational technology, the learning platform responds to individual learner data and adapts instructional resources in accordance with cloud computing and learning analytics, and it can use aggregated data across public learners to better understand, design, and adapt the curriculum based on big data (NMC, 2015). IoT and aided technologies also develop in a setting of continuous learning. IoT can link devices, things, and people. Learners with smart devices can benefit from a variety of relevant information that pushes learners out of the real world - their real surroundings (NMC, 2015).


3.1. Development of smart schools in Vietnam: a case study in Dong Trieu town, Quang Ninh province

Local education authorities in Dong Trieu came up with the novel and cutting-edge concept of "smart school development" in the years 2008-2009. When Dong Trieu was an industrial economic zone, employees with industrial movements had a significant influence and a necessity for workers here, creating a good background for smart growth. Additionally, Dong Trieu serves as a commercial entryway, fostering regional advantages in economic growth while accepting new and contemporary ones. The younger generation has to be educated to keep up with modernity. An administrator of Dong Trieu Department of Education and Training said “This transition has gone through a thorough planning and development process while taking into consideration a well-defined road map. To create and plan a smart learning environment for kids in Dong Trieu, educational officials have adopted this concept”. Dong Trieu has put innovations into practice by establishing one or more smart classrooms in educational institutions from preschool to high school level, increasing the use of information and communication technology in management, teaching, and educational activities, and developing a system of subject classrooms utilizing contemporary technology. The school in the process of preparing and implementing a smart classroom system has been interested in (1) Communicating the model and the ability to implement change; (2) Implementing change with a road map; (3) Assessing and maintaining change in the strategy and developing the school culture. The study of management documents and interviews with former leaders of the education and training departments and managers of some schools in the area shows that schools have made the transition in the priority direction and determined the transition path in accordance with the actual conditions of the school.

Prior to 2013, the preparation and training of information technology application capacity had long been concerned. Information on the smart school model based on the application of modern technology, first of all information and communication technology, is also provided to teachers.  Educators have encouraged students' interest in and aptitude for utilizing the use of information technology in teaching and creating electronic lectures.

From 2013-2014, pilot implementation of the smart classroom model in schools began. Smart classrooms have a number of devices such as smart interactive boards, electronic lesson plans, smart podiums with control centers, learning computers for students, camera systems, learning connection devices,... to serve the transformation, meet the requirements of teaching implementation and intelligent classroom model management. During this period, schools continued to train teachers in the application capacity and use of design software, building digital learning resources. From 2013-2016, the smart classroom model was replicated in schools in the area. The education and training department of Dong Trieu town has developed and transformed activities to build a model of an electronic education department on a digital platform, with the use of online meeting forms. This has been done to help school administrators develop the capacity of the school to adapt and lead change. This is crucial for the urgency and resolve of school administrators and teachers to effect genuine change. Schools in the region have created a strategy to introduce the usage of smart classrooms with the help and cooperation of the government, and the local Department of Education and Training. Typical techniques used in schools to create smart classrooms. A typical replication of smart classrooms in schools has been made possible by the government, based on increasing student performance and engagement in learning. The area has decided on a road map for the transition of smart schools from the gradual building of smart classrooms in response to the financial, human, and infrastructure challenges for the development of smart schools. The process of converting and growing schools in a smart way by incorporating the use of information and communication technologies into teaching and administrative operations is known as "smart classroom development".

In 2015, numerous areas agreed on the essential specifications for smart classroom equipment and duplicated the smart classroom model based on the contemporary classroom model for study. Smart tables, smart podiums, servers, learning management systems, PCs for learning activities, security cameras, and other smart teaching and learning aids can all be found in smart classrooms. Since 2016, schools have had anything from three to more smart classrooms. For instance, Vinh Khe Primary School had six smart classrooms in 2016. The management and operation of teaching equipment are promoted. Teachers plan to use the classroom according to the subject teaching plan and personal plan. The school has a register to monitor the use of equipment, and see the use of smart devices as a criterion for innovation of teaching of school teachers.

From 2018 to 2019, schools will continue to endorse and reproduce the smart classroom model, assess the advantages, and advance to the stage of fully utilizing and duplicating smart classrooms. To assure quality, keep training instructors and investing in networked infrastructure. Establish a smart school culture based on the execution of the process of exploitation and use of smart equipment for teaching, learning flexibility, and multi-style. Evaluate the application and exploitation efficiency of subject areas. The manager of the school said that instructors and students are not shocked by the conversion to online learning in the wake of the most recent Covid epidemic because of the extended period of adaptation and growth of instruction using the smart classroom model.

3.2. Challenges for schools in the transformation and development of smart schools in Dong Trieu town - Quang Ninh province

Researchers participated in discussions between teachers and administrators to identify challenges and constraints that emerged during the transition process. In addition to the interview with six administrators, the analysis of the data from discussions with primary school teachers (53 teachers and administrators), secondary school teachers (34 teachers and administrators), and high school teachers (14 teachers) about the challenges of teaching using the smart classroom system showed that:

3.2.1. Challenges on the part of teachers

Smart school with extensive information technology applications; imbued in school activities. The discussions of teachers and administrators show that most teachers are less surprised and adapted quickly to the use of smart teaching software and equipment to teach effectively. A school administrator said: "The Department of Education and Training has taken an early interest in the human factor. Teachers are interested, attending training courses to guide the use of software and teaching equipment of the smart classroom, so the first stage of familiarization and teaching implementation with modern equipment is relatively convenient". Agreeing with that opinion, an administrator of Vinh Khe Primary School added: “The challenge for teachers is not how to use, but how to effectively exploit the functions of devices or software”. . In addition, because the number of smart classrooms is limited in schools, students in classes are held alternately or each subject has a number of sessions taught in smart classrooms. The difference in the nature of the subject leads to a fairly favorable implementation of the subject in the smart classroom, but not in some other subjects. In addition, teachers feel pressured by having hourly surveillance cameras in the classroom with the observation of the principal or professional group regularly and unannounced. The issue of maintaining effective application of information technology and smart devices in teaching, building learning resources for students and teaching resources for themselves is a job that takes up a lot of teachers' time. An administrator of Mao Khe II Secondary School said: “On the smart classroom activity logbook shows: the frequency of teaching in the smart classroom in natural subjects such as mathematics, chemistry, biology, physics is more than in the subjects of Literature and History. It is because teachers think that natural subjects are easier to design and organize lectures on the basis of smarter classroom equipment.” One teacher said that “the challenge for teachers is how to maintain academic attention for students and invest time in developing teaching resources for themselves”. This also differs in young teachers with 1-5 years of seniority and teachers with 5-10 years of seniority and teachers with more than 10 years of professional experience. According to the management staff, some teachers also lack the motivation to maintain innovation, apply information and communication technology in teaching and participate in building resources. This is mainly related to the income level which is the monthly salary of teachers who do not really meet the needs and desires of teachers.

3.2.2. Challenges arising in the educational process

With the goal of developing competencies and qualities for learners, the pedagogical process in the school is directed toward the centered-learner approach and aims at the positive changes of learners. At the discussion, there was a high agreement among teachers on the supporting role of multimedia technology to make teaching content come alive and attractive. But the teachers also agreed that the school curriculum does not have many aspects of intelligence and flexibility when the program is common to all students in the same school. The differentiation in the program in terms of smart programs, so these learners can learn according to the needs, interests, pace, and rhythm of each individual is unprecedented. Students will be encouraged to access learning and learning resources on their own by exploring, learning at their own pace and ability (self-study), and exploring favorite topics without being bound by a rigid learning task. However, in reality, the learning tasks set for learners are low-division, most learners have the same learning tasks in most subjects. Learners find it more interesting due to the increased experience: listening, seeing, and practicing. New technologies are useful in creating a less stressful environment for students to express their opinions and thoughts freely, increasing teacher-student interaction. However, managing and controlling the behavior of learners in the learning process with smart devices using applications on the Internet is a difficult problem for teachers. Next, there are difficult issues related to students such as; guiding students to learn, and effectively exploiting the elements of the learning environment with smart learning equipment. A primary school teacher said, “The ability to use learning devices and interact with the student's Family through software and classroom learning devices is important. In fact, there are some students whose skills are not proficient leading to not keeping up with class activities, affecting the progress of the teacher's lecture”. Malfunctions related to the use of technological equipment by teachers in the ongoing teaching process may disrupt the classroom. For homework tasks, teachers need the support of parents, especially primary school students, in using smart devices to ensure safety and monitor the use and discovery of software on learning devices with the Internet. Some parents, due to family circumstances or the nature of their work, do not have the time and regular close coordination with teachers. Therefore, the learning tasks assigned at home and to be performed on technological devices can be carried out unequally among students in the same class.

The above difficulties pose a problem for the school in developing the school's education plan; and developing appropriate subject programs so that the program contents are open and require the integration of information and communication technology. At the same time, it is necessary to strengthen the differentiation of learning tasks in the direction of increasing the diversity of content and flexibility in forms and methods of expression. The school should also develop a detailed teacher and student guidance process for each item of smart technology equipment. The school should also take care to strengthen and maintain the team/team supporting teachers and students in implementing the equipment system of the smart classrooms.

3.2.3. Challenges from interaction and student learning skills

The teachers discussed and raised some difficulties related to students, particularly, the teachers' control of the students' learning activities through the server's software attached to the smart podium. If in 1 hour, teachers focus entirely on learning tasks on the subject software and learning resources on the learning support system, there will be limited and little direct interaction between students and students, between students and teachers. Leading to certain difficulties in moral education, and social skills for students. In addition, the smart classroom with modern designed equipment increases the ability and learning opportunities for students with virtual software. This increases the learning experience and develops the skills to use technological devices such as computers, learning application software, and information search skills on the Internet of students are developed. But students' academic cooperation and thinking skills are affected quite a lot if students depend on online information search to complete academic tasks without paying enough attention to the independent and creative thinking of mobilizing the knowledge and experience that has served to solve new learning problems. And it's easy for students to get stereotyped by reference, which is what they find on the Internet.

3.2.4. Challenges related to conditions for teaching and learning

The smart classroom is a modern learning environment that stimulates active learning, developing exploratory learning activities, and technology skills suitable for students. This requires hardware (teaching aids, smart classroom items), software, resources and building resources for teaching and learning, Internet transmission systems, and electrical systems to ensure smooth and safe operation. In order to invest in a smart classroom with enough equipment, it is necessary to invest financially to pay for modern equipment. Managers of Mao Khe II Secondary School shared "Due to financial problems, investment items for smart classrooms are selected and filled by the school in stages. Therefore, there may be an asynchronous implementation from scratch. Due to the limited number of smart classrooms, students are allowed to rotate”. Besides, after a period of use, the equipment has problems that need maintenance and repair. Building a system of transmission lines, safe power lines, and fire protection equipment for smart classrooms is also a challenge for schools. This requires the school to have an appropriate financial plan. The challenge for schooling principals is how to attract investment to expand smart classrooms. Mobilizing and effectively utilizing school resources to maintain and effectively exploit existing smart classrooms ensures useful service tasks for teachers to diversify teaching strategies and for students to learn flexibly.”


Transforming and developing schools towards smart schools is a positive direction and a legal movement in the context of smart city development and smart citizenship training. The challenge posed to schools analyzed above shows that: Schools need to take care to create innovation and build a commitment to continuous teaching innovation for teachers to meet the goal of smart education for the young generation. Develop Flexible School programs and plans for smart schools in order to clearly define goals and set the appropriate road map. Deeply penetrating change, the training of school culture and teaching management should be developed in the direction of empowerment to promote a proactive, active, self-conscious as well as an innovative role and strengthen communication on innovation to create a sustainable and long-term consensus.


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