I spent the better part of the day Friday at the Information Technology College (ITC) in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). This is my second visit there and we had good conversations about joint programming offered between LSC and ITC. They are not currently interested in online learning opportunities and this particular school was never part of the Minnesota Online discussions going on the VACC and Tra Vinh University (and MOET).
There are two model partnerships in Vietnam that they would like our agreement to mirror. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that we can make that happen. In particular, they want all of the instruction to be delivered at the ITC campus in order to earn an LSC certificate or degree, with some of the courses being taught by LSC faculty and some by ITC faculty. The faculty piece is not an issue, as long as LSC could find someone willing to go there to teach for 3-6 months. The real issue is our accreditation status. The way I understand it, if we provide access to a complete award (such as a degree) at another location, then we must get special approval from the HLC (Higher Learning Commission) through a Site Change Request.
If we can overcome the accreditation issues, then there is still one very big obstacle. There are two U.S. schools (one university and C.C.) that are charging tuition of approximately $1,500 per year for full-time study in the programs they offer in Vietnam. That is approximately 1/3 of what we charge for tuition/fees in Minnesota. To get the cost that low we would need to be pretty creative in our cost control, which can have a detrimental effect on the program unless done very well. At any rate, we have a great deal of additional work to do before this partnership might possible move forward.
I had a little bit of fun with them by wearing my "Ask Me About ITC" button that came from the Instructional Technology Council. I told them that whenever someone does ask me about ITC I say which one, ITC Saigon or ITC America?
We once again went to the Dam Sen Amusement Park for an excellent lunch. It was different this time in that the park had many more people in it enjoying a day in the sun and HEAT! Here are a couple of photos from the luncheon.
As they were driving me back to the hotel they stopped by some of the local tropical fish stores. I told them about my hobby of raising tropicals and they kindly granted my wish to see how the local merchants handled the ornamental fish trade in Vietnam. Most fish here are for consumption, including many fish that have a much greater value in an aquarium than on a plate. Although I had noticed a couple of fish stores scattered around the city as we had driven around, they took me to a particular street where there was nothing but one fish store after another, sometimes selling exactly the same good as the store next door, but not always. Here are a couple of pictures from that excursion.
Vietnam needs to enter the export business for tropicals, which is not something that I have seen them do as of yet. Best example of this would be the first picture which was a bucket of very healthy, very large spotted green puffer fish. Fish of this quality would sell in a U.S. fish store for approximately $20 each, or more. You'll pay $12-15 for a smaller, less colorful, less healthy one in most fish stores in America. In this store in Saigon they were selling these fish for 3,000 dong, which is about 19 cents U.S. There's money to be made here for an entrepreneurial ichthyologist or even the less scientific-minded fish lover.