A lot of adjustments are indeed required for the first few weeks of classes. Most, if not all, of my students chose online distance learning based on our school survey, which I’m apprehensive about because I myself don’t have much background on this new way of delivering instruction, but with the help of some people, I braced some glitches over the first week. But nevertheless it showed my strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities to the new system.
But what I found out is that, one after another, students have begun to request to move deadlines for work submission due to network service, worst is some plan to withdraw classes or change the learning modality. And one common explanation is the need for internet access can no longer be met. As they encountered disruption of their internet connection, they could hardly maintain the pace of learning delivery.
In some areas that do not have high bandwidth, the situation highlighted above is particularly true. This is combined with the fact that their families were unable to afford high internet connectivity costs. And I know that many of them only relied on a pre-paid basis. While online learning is just one option for distance learning, information shows that not all households in the Philippines have access to the internet.
And in a college or university that maintains students from diverse geographic locations, like a college in Cebu, for sure, has students who come from provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao. And so for those who opted for a modular modality, postage expense would be a major concern. But nonetheless for a college, much more for government-funded schools to make sure students would not miss a semester or school year. A missed semester or school year would mean a major disruption of the continuity of completing a program. And others who are in this dilemma would opt to work at an early age just to prepare for the next opening of classes, or worse, just be an added burden to their parents as they are unproductive while they are at their homes.
For the basic education, there were several postponements of classes. It was not just once that school opening has been moved this year. As COVID-19 cases continued to rise, the usual June opening of classes was first moved to August 24. But the almost two-month extension appeared to be inadequate for DepEd to transition to the overhauled education system, prompting a second postponement to October.
However, it was good for DepEd because it generally chose modular distance learning. The “backbone” of the department’s distance learning program is modular learning as access to technology remains an issue for most students. The modules would be supplemented by other modes of learning, such as online, TV, and radio broadcasts.
In general, the distribution of modules is not at all a huge challenge as students are only within their area, except in places where students are so geographically dispersed. And so teachers would have to brace themselves for this distance learning method, passing through rivers, mountains, bridges, and many other related obstacles.
We should learn valuable lessons from the first weeks for the sake of our students. It is crucial to find the appropriate modality that best suits their current situation. Let us be aware of the circumstances our students are in, as it is a mortal sin to be blinded by the one-way-fits-all approach.