The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the educational system worldwide. In the Philippines, educational institutions are trying to make sure that learning is unhampered during the health crisis.
The University of the Philippines (UP), for example, has shifted to remote teaching and learning, with the possibility of blending remote and face-to-face meetings, as it opens the new semester on September 10.
Despite calls for an "academic freeze," the UP Board of Regents came to a decision on July 30 to push through with the first semester of the academic year 2020-2021 through remote learning.
In an interview with Rappler, Kenneth Clauna, an incoming BA Communication junior from UP Baguio, shared that the change in the learning mode is a problem for most students, especially for students who do not have access to technology and the internet.
"Thinking about this new mode of learning, I am worried about how I will digest the lessons [easily] since I don't have a stable internet connection and gadgets to use. Since I am in my junior year this coming semester, the subjects are really critical for me to learn because I need them to understand the next higher courses," Clauna said.
As the opening of classes draws near, here are the things Iskos and Iskas should expect for the new academic year.
Following the Commission on Higher Education's (CHED) order, classes in UP will be done remotely. "Limited" face-to-face classes will be allowed in the succeeding semesters if the pandemic situation improves. (READ: CHED proposal: Move subjects that require physical presence to 2nd semester)
Remote teaching and learning can be either synchronous (real-time) or asynchronous (non-real-time). (READ: FAST FACTS: CHED's flexible learning)
Synchronous teaching and learning may be conducted through teleconferencing applications such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, and the like. Meanwhile, asynchronous teaching and learning will be done through text-based communication like emails, Facebook Messenger, and other available messaging apps.
No stable internet connection? Students will be provided with course packs containing course guides, a detailed syllabi, and learning materials before classes start.
For this academic year, UP has shortened the semesters to only 14 weeks each, cutting two weeks from the usual 16-week semester pre-pandemic.
Professor John Cruz* of UP Diliman shared with Rappler how he delivered his midyear classes.
"The class mostly focused on videos uploaded in an online platform where they watched the lecture at their own time and pace. For lab classes, it was done in a synchronous manner, with a live Zoom class," Cruz said.
UP will be maintaining its Zoom subscription, which can be used for synchronous lectures. The university will also continue to subscribe to both local and international databases – providing students a wide array of academic resources across various disciplines. A learning management system is also being acquired, which will be available for all UP students.
For Isko and Iskas who need additional assistance, UP will be helping them through new grants: Learning Assistance Grants (for those in need of equipment and connectivity subsidy aid) and Peer Learning Groups and Networks (networks of student assistants that shall support students under remote learning).
Internet and gadget support services will be given for both financially challenged students and faculty members.
Fundraising campaigns have also been launched among UP alumni and private sector donors for students with no laptops. (READ: #PisoParaSaLaptop: Students seek help for online learning)
Aside from gadgets and financial assistance, UP will be implementing two additional programs for the student’s health, dignity, and welfare.
The Student Wellness System and Networks program will provide information, referral systems, and mental health services to students across UP campuses while the Student Helpdesk Guidance will provide them with academic, emotional, and legal support from social workers and counselors.
On July 21, UP launched Kaagapay, a donation drive that aims to help its students with the technological demands of online learning.
UP said that almost 5,600 students of the university risk not being able to continue their education for the coming school year due to lack of resources.
"They cannot afford the technology and tools that have now become integral to learning. Around 1,600 of them have no resources at all. For at least 4,000 more, sustained use of technologies is no longer feasible because the pandemic has rendered their households financially vulnerable," UP said. – Rappler.com
Isaiah Emmanuel Suguitan is a Rappler intern. He is an incoming junior student at the University of the Philippines Diliman, taking up Communication Research.