By Maricel D. Dantic, PhD
As we experience the “new normal” during these trying times, blended learning is being implemented and students are taught using various means including online, television, radio, and printed materials.
Schools are limited to face-to-face learning to ensure social distancing and decrease the volume of people outside the home at any given time. This is a big challenge as the traditional face-to-face learning in the classroom would not be done.
Before, the students and the teacher are both physically present in the classroom, and there are opportunities for active engagement, immediate feedback, and socio-emotional development of learners. Now, it is not possible in moderate and high-risk areas except in low-risk areas such as the geographically isolated, disadvantaged, and conflict affected areas with no history of infection and very low and easily monitored external contacts, but with teachers and learners living in the vicinity of the school.
One of the applicable teachings is the Core/Specialized-Focused Teaching wherein only core and specialized subjects shall be taught in school. Applied subjects shall be using the home-based, life skill, modular approach.
The Department of Education resources revealed that Distance Learning may be initiated wherein the learning delivery modality takes place between the teacher and the learners who are geographically remote from each other during instruction. Modular Distance Learning (MDL), Online Distance Learning (ODL), and TV/Radio-Based Instruction are three types under this modality.
MDL involves individualized instruction that allows students to use self-learning modules (SLMs) in print or digital format/electronic copy—whichever is applicable in the context of the learner—and other learning resources like Learner’s Materials, textbooks, activity sheets, study guides, and other study materials.
CDs, DVDs, USB storage and computer-based applications can all be used to deliver e-learning materials, including offline E-books. The teacher takes the responsibility of monitoring the progress of the learners. The learners may ask assistance from the teacher via e-mail, telephone, text message/instant messaging, etc.
Where possible, the teacher shall do home visits to learners needing remediation or assistance. Any member of the family or other stakeholder in the community needs to serve as para-teachers.
ODL features the teacher as facilitator, engaging learners’ active participation through the use of various technologies accessed through the Internet while they are geographically remote from each other during instruction. The Internet is used to facilitate learner-teacher and peer-to-peer communication.
Online learning allows live synchronous instruction. It requires participants to have good and stable Internet connection. It is more interactive than the other types of distance learning. The responses are real-time. The learners may download materials from the Internet, complete and submit assignments online, attend webinars and virtual classes. This is practiced effectively by using a Learning Management System or related technologies.
The TV/Radio-Based Instruction, on the other hand, uses SLMs converted to video lessons for Television-Based Instruction and SLMs converted to radio script for Radio-Based Instruction.
Distance learning modality is most viable for independent learners, and learners supported by periodic supervision of parents or guardians. The challenge will be in dealing with learners not capable of independent learning. This is the subject of further discussion within DepEd and with partners and parents.
We know that this is not a walk in the park for both teachers and students. Teachers were given trainings on how to discuss their lessons using limited time effectively and efficiently during online classes, a daunting task due to Internet connectivity issues in the country; while students have been struggling whether their chosen system is through printed modules, blended learning, or online class.
Hence, preparing lessons during this pandemic is way more challenging than before since the concern is not just limited to making sure that the learning will be transferred to the students, but also to making sure that this is actually delivered to them.
The challenge goes on and we are up to the call of this “new normal” brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The author is the Principal 1 at San Antonio Elementary School in Aparri East, Cagayan.
Photos from Department of Education’s Facebook page.
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