Education think tank pushes legislation institutionalizing online learning

April 10, 2021

An education think tank has pushed for a legislation institutionalizing online or “blended” education as evidences show internet-based learning is creating renewed zealousness for learning among young students across all levels.

   The Covid 19 pandemic just compelled many schools to resort to online methods of teaching upon the pandemic’s advent early last year.

   This means online learning becomes part of the blended learning mode. “Blended” also involves the traditional face-to-face system and the use of radio and television, according to the Department of Education.   

   Repeated studies of education expert Philippine Normal University (PNU) has been proving that online education is inevitably becoming pertinent in twentieth-century education.

   Researches over the last 10 years compiled by Dr. Edna Luz Raymundo-Abulon of PNU even indicate that technology, as part of other education strategies, can spell the difference in Philippines’ reversing the “brain drain” phenomenon. 

   Apparently, the brain drain phenomenon — where Filipino teachers choose rather to work abroad than teach here– is caused not only by the low wage at home, but also the lack of opportunities to growth.

   New methods in teaching through technology may turn out to be the hope toward brain gain— winning back home lost teaching workforce.

   The PNU research is a compilation of 89 published researches in recognized refereed scientific journals  and 38 research reported to the Educational Policy Research and Development Center (EPRDC). 

Blended Learning. Source: Let’s Learn English

   The researches were authored by PNU teaching professionals and conducted from 2010 to 2020.

   The report supports PNU’s mandate under Republic Act 9647 which designated PNU as the country’s  National Center for Teacher Education (NCTE).  It made PNU a center  on innovations and alternative systems and their utilization and application to teacher training and development.

   PNU teacher-researchers are among those that instruct the country’s learners in grade school, high school, college (HEIs), and teaching leaders and administrators.  PNU has also trained many teachers in more difficult subjects under STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture, and Mathematics).

   The use of technology in (via blended modality) in higher education has been proven to be effective.  This was especially true for teaching Learning Management Systems—a software for administering of educational or training programs (Balagtas et al. 2018).

   Even for learners in basic education, technology has been known to be enhancing learning.  A study  on MyOpenMath, an online learning management system in grade school, was found to help young pupils not only learn Math efficiently.

   More so, the study of Sarmiento and Prudente discovered that a practical function of MyOpenMath is it prevents copying of homework among students.  That ensures pupils’ authentic Math learning.

   To explore students’ thoughts regarding blended learning, students’ perception has been solicited in another PNU study (Mancao and Morales, Abulon, Ermita & David).  The study showed that blended learning—integrating online lectures with classroom lectures — is an “efficient and effective” way to teach or learn college courses.

   But while college students have positively welcomed the use of internet and gadgets (laptop, netbook, mobile phone) as part of education, the problem oftentimes is the lack of readiness in using these.

   Cost of gadgets and internet connection remain to be a major hindrance to online learning.  Moreover, the presence of qualified teachers adept in software and hardware is another problem.

   This is where a legislative policy may come in. That is to ensure that gaps in blended learning is collectively addressed by the Department of Education, Department of Information Communications Technology and relevant agencies.

   As the government has a thrust to enhance education on STEAM ((science, technology, engineering, agri-fisheries, and mathematics), the PNU report stressed that new pedagogies (teaching methods) including the use of technology must be introduced.

   “Proper assistance must be given by universities in implementing new pedagogies. For instance, with blended learning, standard templates, class schedules, and online rules must be developed (Mancao et al., 2015).”

   “In any new or innovative strategy to be implemented, it must first be determined that there are enough resources, instructors must be properly trained, and students must be involved in ensuring that these pedagogies are properly applied.”

   Blended learning is actually being suggested as a solution to addressing the problem of large classes across all levels in the Philippines.  Ideal class size may just be 20-30 students per class.  But it is not uncommon to find classes of 40 and above even in grade school.

   “Studies looked at approaches that can be used in order to address limitations like large classes.   One such study examined the effective teaching strategies that can be applied in large classes (Reyes & Dumanhug, 2015). Another study looked at an innovative approach that can integrate technology in teaching—blended learning,”  reported Abulon.

   The fact remains the gaps in technology use in schools have to be addressed.

   One basic facility that has to be enhanced in higher learning (college and graduate) is the online library.  PNU itself promotes a web-based research management system as part of developing a university research portal.

   At PNU, the web-based research portal developed has provided a fast, systematic, and organized research management system that keeps record and tracks all research activities in the university.

   In higher education (college and graduate schools), there should be policies to ensure that the curriculum is relevant to present needs of the society.

   “Archaic ways which no longer serve their purpose must not be retained (e.g., Anito & Morales, 2019).”

DepEd’s Blended Learning Mode

   “Higher education could greatly benefit from technology, such as in the delivery of training using a blended modality (Balagtas et al., 2018).”

   Moreover, a PNU research found out online learning is not only effective.  Important, it can also be fun and enjoyable as one class in a Teacher Education Institution (TEI) showed.   A TEI is a school focused on training teachers. 

   “The use of low-cost tablets wherein online and offline course-related activities were implemented to an intact class in a TEI was piloted for a semester.  It found out that learning became enjoyable with the tablet because of the many useful apps that could optimize learning (Cacho et.al, 2017).”

   The use of smartphones (in-class and after-class) was also explored in a class of pre-service teachers (Cacho 2017).

   “The study highlighted the functionalities of the apps in android phones commonly used by the students in relation to better access to relevant information. There is cohesiveness during collaborative learning activities.”  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Govt urged to standardize operations of day care centers proliferating nationwide

Manipulative devices in Match; Source: weareteachers.com;

March 2, 2021

The government should standardize the curriculum and operation of day care centers, ensure training of teachers of  Madrasah (religious school for Islam), and promote technology use if it has to further make a success of K-12 early education.

   Top education research center Philippine Normal University (PNU) asserts that  standardization of operations of day care centers should be legislated has to be even as day care centers have proliferated  in the country. 

   Day care centers have sprung up, and these do not have to keep up with any government quality standards.

   The emergence of many day care centers indicate positive attitudes of parents and the society  toward their young children’s education. 

   Still, children should be assured of learning outcomes in day care centers.

   “The Department of Education (DepEd) should mandate how the operations of these day care centers should be, what learning services they should offer, and how these can be carried out,” according to the PNU research compiled by Dr. Edna Luz Raymundo-Abulon in “Policy Implications for Basic Education”  

   Facilities in day care centers should be adequately provided.  Moreover, teachers’ training in instructing very young children is a unique competence that must be honed and developed

   “More formal training needs to be given to teachers who work in day care centers.  While early childhood education courses may prepare teachers to handle preschool children, the children in day care centers are much younger and are in a different developmental stage,” said Abulon.

   PNU”s report is a compilation of researches from 2010 to 2020. It covers a total of 89 published researches in recognized refereed scientific journals  and 38 research reported to the Educational Policy Research and Development Center (EPRDC).      

   The report supports PNU’s mandate under Republic Act 9647 which designated PNU as the country’s  National Center for Teacher Education (NCTE).  It made PNU a center  on innovations and alternative systems and their utilization and application to teacher training and development.

    The report indicated an important need for more trained teachers in Madrasah. 

   The study of Madrasah among Muslim Filipinos has been integrated into the K-12 basic education curriculum.    

   However, teachers of Madrasah have been found to have limited training on pedagogic skills (teaching methods and styles).

   Furthermore, as the pandemic Covid 19 has prompted an abrupt change in the school paradigm, the PNU study also revealed technology has been found to be very useful in 21st century teaching. The crisis made even basic education institutions resort to online learning even among young children and young adults.

   The PNU research compilation also noted that institutional or administrative problems continue to hound the basic education sector.  These are among the problems:

  • There is inadequacy or absence of qualified teachers in private madaris (teachers who provide lessons from the Qur’an and Arabic Language) for the Muslim K-12 program.
  • Integration of environmental education in elementary and secondary schools (Trinidad & Garancho, 2017) should be carried out more intensively. 

   For instance, while a study (Camacho, 2012) found out that student-respondents were knowledgeable on the general water code provisions of the Philippines,  implementation of policies needs to be reviewed (such as on disposal of dirty water or of waste to rivers).

Day care center; Source: iStock
  •    Delay in the release of allowance of salary of teachers continues.
  • There was an observed lack of clear guidelines in hiring and retention of teachers in basic education.
  • There is mismatch between training and educational attainment of teachers.

   Despite some problems in early learning and basic education, PNU acknowledged important programs that may be replicated to improve early learning or K-12 basic education in the country.

  1. PNU teachers have developed manipulative devices for teaching Math and Science, micro lab kits for Chemistry  and Physics, and content area reading materials for K-12.

   “Teachers in basic education should be encouraged to develop creative and innovative instructional materials that would capture their students’ interests. Trainings/workshops that would provide teachers with skills and opportunities on doing innovative instructional materials are also suggested,” said Abulon.

Science graphics for K-12; Source: wileyonlinelibrary

2. The Headstart Program in Isabela for gifted and talented pre-schoolers is an excellent program to hone children’s intelligence at an early age. Administrators, teachers, and parents expressed their positive views about the program (Leaño & Malano, 2019).

“Children’s gifts and talents must be honed and supported early, and programs such as Headstart (Leaño & Malano, 2019) can be an exemplar in realizing this goal. Policies must be enacted to support the development and implementation of such programs,” noted Abulon.

3. A science teaching strategy called “Predict-Observe-Explain” or POE has been excellent in showing how immediate observations are good techniques in teaching the physical and material world (Physics).  

   “POE can be used for finding out students’ initial ideas; providing teachers with information about students’ thinking; generating discussion; motivating students to want to explore the concept; and generating investigations,” according to Assessment Resource Banks.

The PNU research concluded that the “predict-observe-explain approach intended to promote positive attitude and achievement among students (Garnale, 2015).A culturally-sensitive curriculum improves early learning among cultural minorities. Using the native language of indigenous people (IP)  as learning tool makes learning easier and homey for IPs. This prevents dropout among early IP learners..

4. An analytic scoring framework– rubric, transmutation table– was developed by PNU teachers as tool for scoring pupils’ school performance.  Such rubrics enable a standard for rating students’ performance.  Its use in early education should be promoted.

    “The development and application of methods that could facilitate proper assessment of students’ performance (e.g., Nivera, 2012) should be encouraged.”

5. Early learner teachers should have more training on teaching by observing pupils’ behaviors.  Behaviors of young pupils may determine whether they are having difficulty in learning.  For example, reading difficulty of Grade 1 learners have been noticed through their irregular behavior such as “hand, armhand,  shoulder-waist, and waistfoot; approximate behaviors”  

          Detecting pupils’ difficulty in learning through their behaviour and then helping out these pupils make very young children cope with the stresses of learning. Melody Mendoza Aguiba