Organization

Dr. Emilio B. Espinosa, Sr. Memorial State College of Agriculture and Technology

Best Practice Focus Area/s

Strategy; Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management; Operations

Year Implemented:

13 August 2020

This is a GBPR Entry

Summary

In response to the provisions of CMO No. 4 Series of 2020, supporting RA 7722 and RA 11469, Dr. Emilio B. Espinosa, Sr. Memorial State College of Agriculture and Technology (DEBESMSCAT) came up with its mechanism of Flexible Learning (FL) Implementation and Management to adapt to the present educational needs of Masbatenyo students. The FL of DEBESMSCAT considered the varied needs of its continuing students and first-year students who cannot attend face-to-face classes due to the raging pandemic. It also considered the delivery of service of its personnel as mandated by the supervising and regulatory agencies and, more importantly, the adherence to the health protocols required by the IATF.

Background and Problem

Like any other educational institution in and out of the country, the pandemic threatened to hamper the delivery of higher and graduate education instruction of DEBESMSCAT. Therefore, the administration has to innovate or find novel ways to evade the worst scenario of suspending classes to avoid compromising the students’ future. The Masbatenyo students, like any other Filipinos, consider education as an avenue to lift their families economically; hence, finishing schooling is crucial to them. Banking on the practices of highly developed countries and the recommendation of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), DEBESMSCAT had to embrace a significant change in its delivery of instruction through FL.

As of the moment, FL is the best and safest way to provide continuous or unhampered delivery of DEBESMSCAT’s instruction mandate to Masbatenyos during this time of pandemic and beyond. The need to shell out an amount from its budget and source financial assistance from granting agencies to implement an FL system is now of utmost consideration for DEBESMSCAT. The need to shell out an amount from its budget and source financial assistance from granting agencies to implement an FL system is now of utmost consideration for DEBESMSCAT. However, while DEBESMSCAT was able to take advantage of the modest budget spared by the government and is raring to go full steam, the need to look at the situation of the students and the community college serves as another important consideration.

Solution and Impact

The FL technology utilized by DEBESMSCAT using Macalde’s Webinar presentation dated 22 May 2020 is classified under the Medium Level Technology category. This category is characterized in terms of available devices, mainly consisting of mobile phones. Furthermore, the internet connection under this category is rated as slow (40 Mbps in DEBESMSCAT and 4G connections in selected towns of Masbate province), and the level of digital literacy of the students are primarily advanced, while the faculty and DEBESMSCAT employee’s level is classified as a mix of advanced and proficient. The learning approach is macro and microlearning, or a mix of online and offline activities. After a thorough analysis of the prevailing situation, DEBESMSCAT implemented a version of FL that it believes is tailored to the needs of its personnel, students, and stakeholders. This FL solution is anchored on the Theory of Change that encourages individuals to reflect on personal aims and plans, discuss them with others, and make them explicit. Using Noble’s (2019) work as a reference, DEBESMSCAT has already/is currently taking the following steps:

  1. Conduct of situation analysis to determine the affordances, predicaments, and needs of the students and the faculty and personnel of the institution;
  2. Identification of the target group of people in the organization who have the technological and pedagogical know-how in FL implementation;
  3. Determination of the outcomes of FL once the decision to implement it has been given;
  4. Determination of the possible impact of FL on the academic and personal activities of the students and the DEBESMSCAT personnel;
  5. Planning of activities for the pre-implementation and implementation stage;
  6. Consideration of change mechanisms that involved mind setting of faculty and personnel and the students on the good attributes and even the downsides of FL;
  7. Sequencing wherein the faculty, personnel, and students’ responses and activities related to FL implementation is recorded for analysis and decision making;
  8. Creation of the theory of change diagram for the institution;
  9. Identification of stakeholders and “enabling factors” for the continued implementation of FL; and
  10. Formulation of assumptions in terms of delivery and impact of the FL system.

As of this writing, DEBESMSCAT is currently in the sixth step. The succeeding steps could later provide learnings and experiences that could further improve the institution’s FL delivery. The institution sees the present mechanism it implemented as contributory to the ultimate goal of the Philippine government to stand once again and even stronger under its battle cry “We Heal as One.”

Milestones/Next Steps

Referring to the identified steps related to the Theory of Change, the DEBESMSCAT has already conducted, as the first milestone, a situation analysis that involved the determination of the category of the level of technology in the province of Masbate, which was found to be in the Medium Level Category. Upon determining the institution’s category, the administration tapped faculty members with experience in distance education and specialization in information technology. This was when the administration formed its LMS Project task force composed of a Team Leader and a coordinator from each of the six colleges and the graduate school. This was the second milestone of the FL program of the institution.

For the third milestone, possible outcomes were determined by the faculty based on the prescribed course outcomes and the college outcomes. The administration also supervised the relevance of the identified products to the institutional outcomes. This is to ensure that each level is working towards attaining the institutional results despite the major change that the pandemic brought to the delivery of the instruction mandate of DEBESMSCAT. The fourth milestone involved determining the possible impact of FL on the academic and personal activities of the students and the DEBESMSCAT personnel. In the series of meetings conducted by the administration, the academic and administrative councils, the dean, and department chairs, several issues such as access to ICT, unstable electric services, and the dire financial situation of the students, faculty, and student readiness to FL were raised.

For the fifth milestone, the LMS Coordinators were tasked to cascade the training to all faculty members. Concurrent to the conduct of the training is the completion of the crafting of course modules by each faculty that is designed to cover one month of lessons. These modules were immediately uploaded on the LMS, at the same time, printed for distribution to the students. The second milestone of the flexible learning program was reached after the successful distribution of printed modules to students who requested a copy due to poor internet connectivity and the successful interaction of the students with good internet connectivity to the DEBESMSCAT LMS. Per coordinator reports, some faculty were already able to conduct a course forum, give LMS-based assignments, and conduct LMS-based quizzes and other graded student activities. Alongside this milestone is the approval to implement the LMS Use Policy of DEBESMSCAT. More innovations are expected from the faculty and the students in the coming months and towards the end of the first semester.

Organization

Mariano Marcos State University

Best Practice Focus Area/s

Strategy; Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management

Year Implemented

2013

This is a GBPR entry

Summary

The Mariano Marcos State University Virtual Learning Environment (MVLE) aims to develop and innovate the university’s delivery of instructions to the students and introduce a new pedagogic model for learning and interaction with faculty and students. The Mariano Marcos State University developed MVLE as an institutional online learning management that allows the teachers to deliver online teaching and the students to acquire knowledge through online learning. Learner tools included in the MVLE are communication, productivity, and student involvement tools. Support tools consist of administrative, course delivery, and content development tools.

Background and Problem

The Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) is a comprehensive institution of higher learning in the Ilocos region. Classroom discussion is the norm; thus, the learning setup at MMSU is mostly face-to-face. However, traditional classroom setup has been observed as insufficient for teachers to deliver their lessons, especially when classes are suspended due to holidays, school activities, calamities, and other interruptions. Therefore, some faculty members use the Internet to extend the classroom setting. Blogs, personal websites, chat, and email are some tools that faculty members use to address the student’s needs.

MMSU faculty members undertake a whole-day training for the MVLE

Solution and Impact

Surveys were initially conducted on the undergraduate faculty and students of the Batac campus, and respondents were randomly chosen through a stratified random sampling technique. The faculty population in each college was based on the list of faculties provided by the Human Resource and Management Office. Also, the Registrar’s office prepared the population of students in each college based on the enrolment reports.

Personal interviews through questionnaires and data analysis were conducted to determine the e-Readiness status of MMSU ICT in terms of its ICT infrastructure. The ICT infrastructure assessment rubric by Mokhtar, et al. (2007) was utilized. The researcher adopted the self-evaluation rubric developed by Mankato (Minnesota) Public Schools. This tool was designed to help staff understand their current skills level with computer technologies. The self-evaluation rubric considers 13 areas: Basic Computer Operation, File Management, Word Processing, Spreadsheet Use, Database Use, Graphics Use, Internet Use, Telecommunications Use (E-Mail), Ethical Use Understanding, Information Searching, Video Production, Presentation Skills, and Technology Integration. The VLE functional requirement assessment tool designed by JISC Infonet (n.d.) was used to understand the VLE needs of both the students and faculty. A series of comparative studies were made using the currently available free software and open source VLEs. Below is the list of comparative studies that were undertaken:

  • Comparison between the VLE products based on functions
  • Comparison between the VLE products based on features and capabilities
  • Assessment of the requirements for the VLE for MMSU.

The design of VLE was based on different inputs and results of the assessment undertaken in this study. This includes assessing MMSU ICT e-Readiness regarding its existing ICT infrastructure and users’ ICT profile and reviewing the VLE functional requirements, components, features and capabilities, and open-source platforms. VLE will be a fantastic tool for learning, and it will also make content and learning materials readily available at home. Creating and managing VLE in the school environment can be challenging. First, the administrators, teachers, and students should understand that this will affect how they work, teach, and learn. It is also important to realize that implementation will take some time.

The overall assessment of the faculty ICT profile was marked intermediate. The MMSU faculty’s ICT profile status is inadequate to engage them in VLE. This implies that faculty members still have room to improve their ICT skills. The MMSU’s ICT readiness status is moderate. This means the University can implement VLE to support online learning.

Milestones/Next Steps

The university has continued to upgrade and sustain MVLE since its implementation in 2013. Its importance was highlighted during the COVID 19 pandemic as it was proven helpful in online teaching and learning delivery. MMSU continues to utilize the MVLE tool, and intensive training on its use should be given importance in light of the transition to a purely online mode of delivering education.

Title

Bayanihan E-Skwela (Community Learning Hubs)

Organization

Office of the Vice President of the Philippines

Best Practice Focus Area/s

Citizens / Customers

Year Implemented

October 19, 2020 to Present

Summary

With the glaring limitations posed by the pandemic in the delivery of quality education, the Office of the Vice President (OVP), through its Bayanihan e-Skwela initiative, launched the OVP Community Learning Hubs (CLHs) in various parts of the country. A CLH is a learning facility that aims to provide learners with a safe and conducive space for learning; has the necessary tools, devices, and equipment; and has volunteer tutors who can guide them with their lessons. The hub is not intended as a substitute for formal education in schools but is meant to be supplementary to the current distance learning set-up.

Since its launch on 19 October 2020, the OVP has activated twenty-eight (28) CLH sites in various parts of the country, including the city of Pasig, the provinces of Rizal, Negros Occidental, Camarines Sur, Aklan, Quezon, Albay, Romblon, Isabela, Manila, Leyte, Antique, Iloilo, Cebu, Lanao Del Sur, and Sultan Kudarat.

Background and Problem

In order to prevent prolonged school disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Education (DepEd) announced the Basic Education – Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) in May 2020, which identified multiple learning delivery modalities that are relevant in providing a safe and healthy learning environment for the learners and teachers. Following the announcement, the DepEd began laying the groundwork for a “blended learning” modality, which would make use of radio, television, online, and modular learning for the incoming school year, as an alternative to face-to-face learning amid the public health situation.

However, the sudden necessity of blended learning coupled with the nationwide economic distress brought about by the health crisis made it even harder for marginalized families to help their children catch up with their studies. Furthermore, learners’ development in reading, writing, math, and other major subjects were further stunted.

The challenges faced by learners from marginalized families who already struggle with their finances are magnified by blended learning; they do not have the necessary internet connectivity or gadgets for their lessons, they live in environments that are not conducive for learning, and they have parents or guardians who do not have the capability to provide adequate support them for their lessons due to illiteracy or their work’s demands.

Solution and Impact

The OVP recognized these problems and immediately convened a team to conceptualize possible areas of intervention to ensure that all students will be given quality education despite the difficult circumstances. Thus, the Bayanihan e-Skwela initiative was born, with one of its pillars being the establishment of CLHs nationwide.

Launch of the Community Learning Hub in Barangay Tabuco, Naga City

The OVP launched this project by first identifying potential pilot sites based on the following criteria: (1) the presence of a Civil Society Organization or Local Partner; (2) the LGU is interested in and cooperative with the project; and (3) the area is considered underprivileged and in need of support. Once a site was considered, a meeting was held with the local stakeholders, and steps were taken to start establishing the CLH, with defined roles among local partners.

Notably, in establishing a CLH in an area, stakeholders strived to meet these three key components:

  1. Beneficiary Insights. To know more about the families, needs assessment activities were conducted in select areas. Data was culled from surveys and available information from the local schools where the site is located. The LGUs also helped in identifying the priority beneficiaries based on a specific set of criteria.
  2. Volunteer Support. To support the implementation of the project, volunteers may be referred by the partner LGUs or from networks of the OVP coming from various sectors (women, youth, labor groups, etc.). The volunteers may come from the same barangay, or adjacent barangays where the hub is located.

Notably, In partnership with several non-profit organizations and enterprises with experience in the field of education, the OVP was able to train hundreds of volunteers. The training was done through:

  • Social Learning Units where learning modules can be answered asynchronously through the Facebook group platform.
  • Enrichment Sessions which are synchronous sessions facilitated via Zoom platform that aims to process all the knowledge the volunteers acquired from answering the social learning units.
  1. Site Identification. For an effective CLH, many considerations were taken. Notably, they must have been located in an area with a high concentration of learners, easily accessible to the learners, and conducive for learning.
Grade 1-6 students can use these personal computers for free

Significantly, most of the sites chosen were daycare centers, halls, and other venues that were underutilized since gatherings are not allowed in the new normal. Sites that required refurbishing were endorsed to possible local partners who could help cover the expenses for the renovation. The project thus became a culmination of efforts among the LGU, the community, and the private organizations in the area.

Milestones/Next Steps

As of writing, the Community Learning Hub has mobilized ₱28.5 million, launching 129 sites across 43 provinces and 91 cities/municipalities from October 2020 to June 2022, benefitting a total of 8,216 students.