ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago-Visaya (The Freeman) - October 10, 2020 - 12:00am

There were various concerns about the first week of distance learning. Although this school year’s successful opening of classes, as claimed by the Department of Education, it is quite different from what we witnessed in previous years as we can no longer see the normal crowded classrooms, insufficient teachers and learning materials in a physical school setting.

But as they come face-to-face with the nuances of distance learning, what we hear are narratives from both parents and students. In fact, modular distance learning accounts for the highest number of students in public schools. It covers how they go about this form of distance learning.

In dealing with this type of learning modality, there are several difficulties. The absence of teachers is one big obstacle. While some teachers keep their communication lines open, as parents and other competent members of the family as home tutors instead, no or limited conversation will ever take place between the teacher and learners. And this arrangement will certainly suggest disrupting the regularity and work flow of home routines.

Initial reports of errors in the modules that have gone viral are already documented as early as the first week of the introduction of the modular learning framework. And for a system that lacks time and rigidity in proofreading, this is expected. We have also learned tragic accounts of students who experienced depression, or worse, committed suicide because of the daunting practices embedded in the modules. There are teachers or college professors who are more than happy to know that their students are struggling with their lessons and so bombard them with so many activities and assessments.

And an instance of meeting with parents for orientation about modular distance learning is definitely not enough for parents who struggle both with pedagogy and content. They are parents whose educational attainment is far less than their children.

The student is free to meet the teacher during the non-office hours in a normal classroom scene, based on a prior appointment from the teacher. In distance learning, this facility can be provided for by connecting to the faculty mobile phones. More towards self-dependence, the distance learner is encouraged.

The prominent role of the government and its external support, such as small and large businesses, contribute to national economic development at the macro level. The modality of distance learning is thus proportional to the country’s economic growth. In developing countries such as the Philippines, the key resource for distance learning lies in deciding their desire to build an educated community.

At ground level, teachers need to find ways to localize the learning modules and contextualize them. Part of this innovation is also evaluating the skill of their students. Teachers know their students better than the division or even the central office’s module designers.

Modules as learning resource, aimed at academic success, must be practical, motivating, and enjoyable for the learners. And so when students interact with the texts on their own, they can develop a sense of appreciation and eventually a sense of independence. It must never be a source of depression and frustration among parents and students. It must never be a way to add to the burden of what they have been experiencing already for the past few months.


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