THIS current pandemic has forced almost everything and everyone to online world. Vloggers, TikTokers, online sellers and online chat rooms have grown exponentially for this reason. This did not excuse the academic life of everyone. While distance learning have existed through time, it cannot be denied that the present situation has forced all institutions of the country to settle for the blended learning with online as the major option. As teachers navigate the online world, we have realized how lucky we are of the capabilities of Google and Facebook to assist educators if we do not have institutional learning management systems. However, the big question started when the buffering and the loading, slow-motioned movement of the navigation started. Where in the world are we going to connect? Which telecom should we use?
Hence, Internet connection is really a struggle in almost all communities in the country. In different statistics available online, in the Philippines, about one out of three Filipinos have access to the internet. Others have none.
On the other hand, while generation X (digital migrants) teachers are learning the online world, the remaining baby boomer generation of educators have become the aliens of their own classrooms. They used to be the giants of wisdom, the source of information for the world ahead of us. Now, the Ate Glo of our place and time has no media and information literacy starting off with absence of access and zero knowledge on use. Shall we leave Ate Glo in the dark or find a way to help her?
What has our institution done on this matter. Let us not forget that the digital divide between the young and old, the rich and the poor and the have and have nots, is growing so big and has also exponentially grown into a giant wall between those who know and wanting to know how. Media and information literacy, if provided to all educators, will not just empower them but more of an emancipation. This is the present call of time. We need to know the basics of access, use, evaluation and production of materials that will enable us to show and make informed judgments as users of information and media, as well as to become skillful creators and producers of information and media messages. Hence, the avenues for this are greater than what we think.
But, what is sad now, in the reality we live in, we are forwarding the survival of the fittest in the midst of the pandemic and in the online world as well. In the case of my institution, some departments have tried to lead the way for Ate Glo to learn while others are leaving her in the dark and just watching her to navigate on her own. Where is sensitivity now? This is true to all institution out there. I have a friend from DepEd who said that they can only make printing and photocopies of their materials because if they will make soft copies to be emailed, even if their students can download, she will not have the tech-know-how of scanning and making it available as a PDF file, and the story went on.
Another friend of mine shared about her making of a "Vodcast" of her classes. She did not know the different terms to be used when one is creating video clips of their own. All these and that of making videos, issues on fair use, labelling, making RSS for vodcasting and all, are aliens to many of our educators. Why? Because media and information literacy for all was never a priority in the side of the educators. As an MIL teacher myself, I cannot help but share this so that other institutions and administrators will realize this issue that I am raising before it is too late.
A simple retooling could have been done for everyone. Let us equip our educators as they bravely face this new arena of educational battles. We should find a way to minimize the digital divide among us. To my readers who do not know what we mean by digital divide, this is a term that refers to the gap between demographics and regions that have access to ICT especially the internet. We have to create avenues that can make educators feel comfortable no matter how young and old, how rich and poor. For the Bangsamoro region, this is my way of motivating heads of units of the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technological Education to find all ways and means for the Bangsamoro region to be at par with the world.
Again, we cannot just watch and see how others are enjoying and become excited with the new online classrooms while others are wallowing in self pity for not knowing where to start. We are Filipinos and known to be resilient in all ways. We can conquer both the pandemic and digital literacy if we work together and not pulling each other down and drowning each other on blames. We are more than this.