CLASSES for college students began last month for Malayan Colleges in Mindanao (MCM) where I teach part-time for Communication and Multimedia Arts students.
The teachers, in my opinion, were lucky because even before the pandemic MCM had been practicing digital learning and would actually allot one day in a week just for digital learning. So it wasn’t a huge adjustment for the faculty members. But still, adjustments, relearning and knowledge absorption were made. A number of webinars and training for the use of a variety of digital learning tools a month before classes start were also done for the teachers’ sake.
In the same way, students were given the option to enroll whether fully online, blended learning or remote learning. They were also given the option to enroll under Batch A or Batch B depending on their current status and learning availability. It’s now Week 4 of the semester, weekly reports are being made and weekly module contents are being uploaded.
But not every school is as lucky and as ready.
Most of the schools in the Philippines, especially those located in rural communities, were taken by surprise by these online classes and remote learning. Other private organizations have gathered together to donate gadgets and bond papers to print modules for use of the schools and individual students. Others rely on government support.
While problems with gadget provision and internet access is an expected problem, one struggle that is present on the sidelines of this situation is the psychological struggle.
I had a student who I had to reach out to as she was enrolled in the class but has not yet participated in any activities. Her response saddened me. She said she will try her best to catch up but that she has been dealing with mental burdens lately. She thanked me for taking the time to reach out. I wanted to be as understanding as possible. It’s hard for everyone to deal with this pandemic and, who knows, their family might be dealing with some major financial or any other sort of problem. So I just told her she can email me anytime she would need help catching up.
A friend who is currently enrolled in a law school in Davao City would also constantly complain of the inconvenience the students experience during exams. They are given careful, detailed instructions on how they should take a video of themselves while taking the two-hour exam. On top of that, they must also submit a 360-video of their surroundings before the exam starts. She shared while taking the exam, her paranoia on whether or not the camera is rolling and recording the entire duration of the exam is taking over her mind more than the actual questions. She was afraid she couldn’t answer properly, not to mention the time and effort she needed to set up her recording materials and apps prior to taking the exam. As if law school is not stressful enough.
She wished her school would be more understanding of the situation of the students and would not make it harder than it already is.
Online remote learning is undeniably difficult both for the teachers and the students. For older teachers, they need to learn the technology fast. For some students, they need to understand the lesson and be more diligent in their individual studying schedules to get the most of the subjects.
But in any new, difficult situation, I learned that the best thing to deal with it is to be compassionate and understanding with the other parties. School administration should be thinking of the welfare of the teachers and the students. Teachers should think of the students and whether they’re already bombarding them with information. In the same way, students must not expect too much from teachers as long as the teachers provide them the lessons, activities, and assistance they need from time to time.
Online learning and teaching are just a few things we decided on amid this pandemic that we weren’t actually ready for. Many call for an academic freeze but the Department of Education insists we are ready.
We are Filipinos. We were told we are resilient so we face challenges bravely even if we don’t deserve it or even if we could have had it better.