New path

The Freeman - - Opinion -

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.

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