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CHED: Flexible learning to stay even after pandemic

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
CHED: Flexible learning to stay even after pandemic
Speaking at a virtual forum on education on Friday, De Vera said the commission has adopted a policy that flexible learning will continue in the next school year and thereafter.
Edd Gumban, file

MANILA, Philippines — The flexible learning system that combines different methods of teaching will be the new norm in the education sector even after the current pandemic, according to Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman J. Prospero de Vera III.

Speaking at a virtual forum on education on Friday, De Vera said the commission has adopted a policy that flexible learning will continue in the next school year and thereafter.

Flexible learning involves having a combination of learning delivery strategies such as the use of online platforms or the use of digital or printed modules.

In recent months, CHED also allowed some higher education institutions (HEIs) offering medical and other allied health programs to resume limited face-to-face classes for some subjects.

“From now on, flexible learning will be the norm. There is no going back to the traditional full-packed, face-to-face classrooms,” he said.

“Why are we doing this? Because if we go back to the traditional face-to-face classroom… we run the risk of exposing our educational stakeholders to the same risks if another pandemic comes in,” he added.

De Vera also noted investments that have been made in technology, teacher training and retrofitting of facilities to adjust to the new situation.

What is required, he said, is the need to realize that the old paradigm of face-to-face versus online will now disappear.

“What will happen is a flexible system where universities will mix and match flexible learning methods appropriate to their situation,” he said.

“Some of them, the more prepared universities, will continue investing and moving ahead using online platforms. Others will be allowing some of their students to come back at specific periods and do more synchronous versus asynchronous learning,” he added.

De Vera noted how HEIs in the country adjusted to the pandemic by adopted flexible learning methods depending on the situation on the ground and the capacities of the students and faculty members.

“We realized that the digital divide exacerbates difficulties in adjusting to flexible learning. But we are seeing in the experience of higher education institutions that innovation and adjustments are emerging. Meaning, both students and faculty members are able to adapt and adjust to flexible learning better now than before,” said De Vera.

“The academe must now realize that it must be more participative and more willing in adjusting and exploring creative methods of teaching. I think faculty members now realize that the first problem of adjusting to the online now requires them to rethink the way they handle classes,” he added.

De Vera said teachers must now realize that the old norms are gone and that they must adjust to new standards, such as in engagement with students, syllabus and methodologies, assessment systems and the type of learning materials that are used.

Ready for face-to-face

At the same forum, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said the Department of Education (DepEd) is ready for the pilot implementation of limited face-to-face classes in some public elementary and high schools once President Duterte gives his approval.

Stressing that the return to physical classes would not be applicable for all, Briones said there are around 600 schools in low-risk areas that have already been deemed ready for face-to-face classes.

“Anytime the President gives us the go signal, we can open face-to-face (in these schools),” she said, noting these were evaluated under very strict standards to ensure the safety of the students and teachers.

The secretary earlier expressed hope that the President would soon allow the plan to push through.

“We have been proposing face-to-face for some time, but our efforts were interrupted whenever there is a new COVID variant,” she said at the forum, citing Duterte’s decision last December to revoke his approval due to the threat of the new variant first detected from the United Kingdom.

On the matter of school opening, Briones said they worked out three schedules that the President can choose from.

“He can choose whatever date he deems appropriate in his wisdom. We are hoping that the trend in the management of COVID will improve much better,” she said without disclosing the options.

Officials earlier confirmed that one of the options for the opening of the next school year will be on Aug. 23.

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