I WAS introduced to distant learning back in 2014 when I had to pull out my Junior High daughter from an international school. I remember attending an orientation on how distant learning works with other parents who plan on working abroad. As a working mom, I was not drawn to the idea simply because I felt that the responsibility of teaching your child “hands-on” is too much of a load to handle, until Covid-19 happened.
Suddenly, parents are tasked to teach their kids how to solve equations, choreograph a dance, do experiments and read literature long forgotten just to keep up with their children’s school requirements. On the other hand, teachers are challenged to lecture online with appealing and visually stimulating materials for their students. Admit it or not, the last quarter of the school year 2019-2020 is an unprecedented ordeal we all are fortunate to have survived.
As of this writing, there is NO cure for the virus. Potential vaccines are still being tested and the Philippines have yet to flatten the curve. That being said, the majority of private schools transitioned to online distance learning, at least for the first quarter. Hybrid or blended learning, which is a mixture of online and face-to-face learning, will likely be imposed IF the situation permits.
As this is a good move and an ideal option to safeguard our children from Covid-19, numerous concerns have been raised by parents and caregivers. A recent study conducted in the US recently by McAfee with 1,000 parents as respondents yielded the following results. Whether they have kindergarteners or high school seniors, parents are sharing many of the same pains. Across the board, they are:
1. Keeping their children focused on schoolwork (instead of other online activities).
2. Establishing a daily routine.
3. Balancing household responsibilities and teaching.
4. Establishing a wake-up and bedtime schedule.
5. Balancing working from home and teaching.
Ianne Go, a jeweler from Metro Manila, finds the absence of social interaction as one disadvantage of online distant learning. Juvy Ong, a former teacher herself, attests that it is harder to teach your own kids. In fact, complaints of headaches, eye problems and stress started to surface with children spending long hours on their computers and smartphones.
But let’s face it, learning must continue and parents, teachers and students must work hand in hand as a TEAM. The teacher will still teach but parents must assist teachers in delivering their material and students must learn to adapt to this new educational format.
As the majority of schools without classrooms are opening in the coming weeks, all parties, i.e. the Department of Education (DepEd), the school, teachers, students and parents are gearing up to make this school year work.
Baguio Achievers Academy, for instance, has tied up with Phoenix Publication to provide their students an individual portal where they (including their parents) can access their lessons, worksheets and other school activities via online while teachers are busy preparing for their lecture materials like interesting and interactive video outputs and PowerPoint presentations to not bore their students.
The DepEd, on its end, has strengthened the capacity of its online learning platform, the “DepEd Commons”. It is an online educational platform created by the department for public and private school teachers and learners, which supports distance learning and was being developed even before the pandemic hit the country. In cooperation with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), https://commons.deped.gov.ph/ can be accessed free of data charges by all mobile subscribers of Globe, TM, Smart, Sun and TNT, except links on the DepEd Commons page that require you to access the internet outside the Common Domain, is beyond this coverage and may incur standard data charges.
Most parents I’ve come across are left with no choice but to adapt to this new learning set-up and it is not easy. YES, online distance learning:
1. Will cost more than the usual:
-Provision of a conducive learning spot at home.
-Subscribing to faster and efficient internet connectivity.
-The need to buy or upgrade devices.
2. Will be time-consuming:
-Keeping your child on track with school work requires close supervision.
3. Will be tiring:
-Provision of a more structured study routine.
-Helping out with home works and other assigned tasks.
BUT, at the end of the day, we are bound to rediscover that the time spent at home with online distant learning is a time spent with what truly matters most, our FAMILY. #fileunderfamilymatters