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Education and Home

Blended: Learning in the time of COVID-19

Philstar.com
Blended: Learning in the time of COVID-19
Danda Crimelda Buhain, chief external affairs officer of REX Education and managing director of REX International
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MANILA, Philippines — E-books, modules, online classes — these are but some new buzzwords popularized by the COVID-19 pandemic. And while it’s the students who found themselves confined in their homes, they aren't exactly the only ones hitting the books, so to speak, in the age of “blended learning.”   

In an interview with Philstar.com, Danda Crimelda Buhain, chief external affairs officer of REX Education and managing director of REX International, explains that there’s definitely more to the new normal setup than students in their virtual classrooms. 

“Aside from students who had a hard time adjusting in the beginning, you also have teachers who may be having difficulty with the new teaching models, as well as parents who now have to be very hands-on in their children’s education,” she explains.  

And while academic institutions and schools may have their own unique strategies in implementing their curriculum, many of them—whether public or private—have certainly found themselves more reliant on blended learning solutions

Contrary to what many people may think though, e-books and other blended learning solutions, learning modules and similar formats have long been developed by organizations such as Rex Education, even before the pandemic kicked in. However, the lockdowns did prove vital in pushing blended learning solutions into mainstream consciousness.

“Uptake of digital learning resources within the country has been slow and gradual in the pre-COVID years, but the pandemic pushed the education sector to finally embrace and adopt digital and online learning modalities,” says Danda, who reveals that demand for learning management systems (LMS) such as Rex’s very own “Schoology” has skyrocketed in the past months.

“Blended learning through a flexible approach is undoubtedly here to stay. Whether we’re looking at a mix of online and offline, going fully digital or incorporating LMS, these new innovations have forever altered the education landscape in the Philippines since the start of the pandemic,” says Danda.  

However, she is also quick to point out that printed books still help achieve “completeness of learning,” especially in countries like the Philippines, where only less than 47% of public school students in rural areas have access to the Internet.  

“Each additional book helps children perform better in school,” she explains. “It encourages them to read for fun and talk to their parents about what they’ve learned, which only stands to benefit them.” 

Danda also cites a study conducted in 42 countries, which revealed that students who have books at home are more likely to score high on their tests. This also shows that a student’s learning ability and reading comprehension are greatly enhanced when digital learning tools are used alongside books and vice versa.

Even more remarkable is how students and parents find themselves growing closer and more involved with each other, in what was once shaping up to be a more socially distant world. 

“Because of the study from home setup, some overseas Filipino worker (OFW) parents residing abroad would go online and help their children in the Philippines with their schoolwork, despite the geographic distance and time difference,” Danda, a mother of two, relates.

After more than a year in various stages of lockdowns, and with face-to-face classes suspended indefinitely, Danda reiterates that teachers and educators are the modern champions that “keep the learning process together at such a difficult time.”

As such, Rex Education, in cooperation with the Commission on Higher Education, also launched Gawad Edukampyon last January, which aims to honor various academic institutions, colleges and universities for rising to the challenge of the pandemic in order to ensure continuous learning. 

Its four categories are: Excellence in Flexible and Responsive Management, Excellence in Flexible Teaching and Innovation, Responsive Research and Development and Public Service and Community Engagement.

Rex, which is committed to its advocacy and mission of providing lifelong learning, will also grant Gawad Edukampyon category winners a P200,000 cash prize and an educational resource package. All winners will also be featured in Rex's Education-led publication, Padayon.

“We want the Gawad Edukampyon Awards to be part of the very first steps of our years-long movement to turn every school, college, universities educator learner and everyone else into an Edukampyon, as we pave the road towards becoming a nation of Whole Filipino Learners,” concludes Danda.

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