WHEN the Department of Education (DepEd) announced the resumption of classes this school year, a lot of parents and guardians were apprehensive and fearful because they knew they could not obtain gadgets required for the online learning approach. The opening of the school year became synonymous with parents flocking computer shops as well as parents and students having to work hard to earn money to acquire these gadgets. Two weeks before the opening of class, we are getting a clear view that unlike some private schools, public institutions will hardly hold online classes not because they cannot but because DepEd has to adhere to the spirit of fair play.
Online learning is similar to conducting online classes. In online classes, teachers go on with their class routine only it utilizes online teaching platforms such as Zoom and Google Meet in their teaching delivery. In joining the meeting, the students are virtually present and teachers can have a good look at them. Activities can be given and discussions can be steered. I believe this was what DepEd had in mind when it suggested that education will adopt the online learning approach as part of the blended learning umbrella system. Previous surveys show that the majority of the students have at least gadgets to use in online learning but the agency soon realized that the surveys do not reflect the realities at the grassroots level. Stories of families about their struggle to obtain a gadget flooded the news. Online learning such as conducting online classes will only put the poor in a disadvantaged position.
There was a bit of confusion among the students and parents when some schools offered an online delivery preference. Some students thought that this is similar in having online classes. It convinced them and their parents to choose this delivery mode because literally, they have gadgets and high-speed internet service enabling them to join online classes.
However, teachers had to explain that modules are only sent online and that’s all there is to it. The modules are sent online so the advantage is they do not need to go out to pick up their modules from the schools or go to the barangay centers where the school, in coordination with the local police and barangay officials, dropped their printed modules. The problem in online delivery, however, is, learners still need to print out these modules if they want a hard copy of them. They still need to print out the answer sheets to be sent to their teachers for assessment purposes. Or depending on the teachers, they still need to send a soft copy of their answers to the school.
This means they need to have printers and ample supply of bond papers to obtain hard copies of modules while those who chose to pick up and delivery do not need to worry about these concerns because the schools provide them with both the hard copies of the modules and the answer sheets.
Conducting online classes today is ideal, there is no doubt about it, but ours is considered a third world country. Having an online class is possible and but it is never fair to all students especially those studying in public schools. Online classes are financially demanding and most likely, the majority of the learners’ families cannot cope with these demands.
I heard that elementary students in some private schools hold online classes. Good for them because their families can afford their financial weights. The economic condition is the foremost consideration among most families in the country. The majority of the students in public schools do not have gadgets or fast-internet service connections necessary for online classes. Teachers cannot just hold these classes to a small number of the class only because most students have no means to join. Those who are not privileged of sufficient income will be denied of the learnings attained in activities and discussion.
Pubic schools can conduct online classes but it would be discriminating because it is selective. The learning experiences would not be the same for everybody and the poor will certainly be on the losing end.
DepEd understands the need for online learning through online classes but it had to choose a modality that would be fair for all learners. So, handing these developed modules to the students is the safest and fairest of all the possible modalities. Online delivery will only be good for those who have no way or means of going to the school such as those who were locked in the provinces due to the pandemic or those whose areas are under travel restriction.
The process of teaching and learning should be clear among teachers, learners, and parents/guardians to minimize frustrations. The process of schooling today begins in obtaining the modules (depends on the options) by parents or guardians, then students work on these modules at home. The mindset includes expecting the difficulty in answering modules because it mostly demands learners to be independents.
Once this is clear, learners understand they need the assistance and supervision of their parents, most especially their teachers. They need to consult their teachers in any means available because it is necessary. Teachers are creating group chats (GC) to maintain active and close contact with the students. Learners should maximize its use.
Education in the new normal is tricky. The extensive planning by DepEd does not cover all the loopholes created by the newness of the approach. Time and time, teachers and students face hurdles that will challenge their perseverance. Problems will arise. It will be frustrating and, at a time, terrifying. To overcome most of these challenges, all stakeholders need to be kept updated. They need to be clarified in information like the idea of online learning and online delivery.