How ready Philippines is for Online and Distance E-learning
With COVID-19 plaguing Philippines, schools are expected to adapt Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to extend education beyond the four walls of the class room. This begs the question: Is Philippines ready for online and distance E-learning?
E-learning is not new to some schools in the Philippines. Online tools tailored for class instruction are used such as Google Classroom and Edmodo are currently used in many schools in the Philippines. These tools are generally used for submission of softcopies of school requirements and come with widgets that alert the student on deadlines.
Even social media platforms like facebook and messenger are used for class instruction despite not being designed for this function. Whenever social media sites and applications are used for education, they are only medium for occasional questions or clarifications.
These online education tools are useful for compliance of requirements but cannot replace the effectiveness of face to face human interaction. The government is looking into ways we can compensate for the lack of human interaction. Those with the means to do so conduct online classes via zoom and skype.
To be ready for online and distance e-learning, these factors must work well together: the users, the tools, and the environment.
The users are the teachers and students. To prepare themselves, teachers must make adjustments to their lessons making them fit for online instruction. In the student’s end, he must be ready to fix time frames that will fit his current situation at home. Attention will be divided among school, family responsibilities, and personal growth.
The tools are ready to be used but we face challenges in delivering these tools (online tools, software, applications, and the physical devices) to all the users. Both teachers and students need devices where they will receive and send information, and perform tasks. The cheapest multifunctional device available is a smartphone. They may receive calls and messages. Applications can be installed. A midrange smartphone would do the job well.
The environment is the hardest issue to address. Being an archipelago, it is hard to build infrastructure equally everywhere. This is why many places do not have cellular service or internet connection.
In an interview with ABS-CBN’s DZMM (a leading radio station in the Philippines), Department of Education Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said that television and radio will be maximized to bring lessons to students in places where travel is restricted. Yet, this takes us back to the issue on tools. Does every household have a television or radio? On the issue of environment, does every household with a TV and radio have signal? Will they be able to use these tools in their environment?
Everything will get complicated for more specialized cases like in tertiary education where some programs and courses require practical assessments and performance tasks. How will professors give grades when they cannot supervise students’ actual performance?
The photo above is a screenshot from a video showing a student, Franz Berdida, in the dark with her laptop in front of her. She climbed the mountain late at night to submit school works. She also tells that the climbs usually take 30 minutes to 1 hour.
It is safe to say that Philippines is not yet ready for online and distance e-learning but the people in charge deem it necessary to push through with classes. They may want to start classes and start addressing the challenges immediately. However, by doing so, there will be less privileged students who will get left behind.
- Classes to open on August 24 – DepEd. (2020, May 5). Rappler. https://www.rappler.com/nation/259936-deped-announcement-classes-resume-august-24-2020
- Student climbs mountain in search of signal to send school requirements. (n.d.). GMA News Online. https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/hashtag/content/736143/student-climbs-mountain-in-search-of-signal-to-send-school-requirements/story/
- ABS-CBN News. (n.d.). Top 10 best performing nursing schools in PH. ABS-CBN News | Latest Philippine Headlines, Breaking News, Video, Analysis, Features | ABS-CBN News. https://news.abs-cbn.com/image/nation/06/18/16/top-10-best-performing-nursing-schools-in-ph
- UP experts propose no classes until December to stop COVID-19 spread. (n.d.). cnn. https://www.cnn.ph/news/2020/4/21/UP-experts-class-suspensions-December-COVID-19.html