As the pandemic rages on, the Uno administration and faculty recognize the need for radical innovations to our regular teaching programs for the new school year, which will start on August 24, 2020. With the many constraints and limitations on the education system caused by the health crisis, we realize that we must rely more heavily on present technology. More than ever, we have to be resilient, resourceful, and prudent in plotting our academic plans for this school year 2020-2021.
First, we took time to re-examine and evaluate the delivery method used during the class suspension from March to May 2020. We saw that even if we were able to deliver learning content, we should also have provided reasonable time not only for teacher-student interaction but also for student-student interaction because our students would miss both their teachers and classmates. Next, we consulted our parents through an online survey conducted from May 14 to May 19, 2020 regarding their preferences and online capabilities. The results show that the majority prefer to keep their children home and to have them enrolled in a distance learning system. Factoring in our usual concern for the safety and well-being of our faculty and students, we have come up with a distance (online) learning program aimed at effective delivery of learning content while upholding our usual academic standards and instilling in our students the Uno core values of leadership and academic excellence, discipline, and charity.
This distance learning program will be utilized during the entire duration of the first semester (August to December 2020). Blended learning or a combination of distance learning and face-to-face learning may become feasible in the second semester only if the conditions in the country are safe enough to allow our students to come back to school.
Before we present to you a summary of our distance learning program, we hope to acquaint you with some of the terms that will appear in our outline. Please go through the following glossary of terms:
Definition of Terms:
- Distance learning – a form of education in which the main elements include physical separation of teachers and students during instruction and the use of various technologies to facilitate student-teacher and student-student communication
- Real time – something happening now or something that is being broadcast over the exact number of seconds, minutes, or hours the event is taking
- Synchronous learning (SL) – online or distance education that happens in real time
During synchronous learning, students and teachers may interact via video conferencing apps. Lectures, discussions, recitations, consultation, etc., can take place spontaneously.
- Asynchronous learning (AL) – occurs through online channels without real-time interaction
During asynchronous learning, students can access homework, assigned tasks, reading materials, videos, and other online materials on their own or with the help of their parents.
- Blended learning – a style of education in which students learn via electronic and online media, as well as traditional face-to-face teaching
- LMS – learning management system – a software that enables companies and educational institutions to create and manage lessons, courses, quizzes, and other training materials
- Assessment – a method that the teacher uses to check the amount of learning students have accomplished
Assessment may be done in two ways:
- Formative assessment – check-up done during the process of learning (examples: question-and-answer exchanges, recitation, seatwork)
- Summative assessment – check-up done at the end of a lesson (examples: quizzes, periodic exams)
Distance Learning Program
Distance learning in Uno will employ two (2) modes: synchronous learning (online) and asynchronous learning (offline). For online/synchronous learning, a video and audio-conferencing platform will be used as the medium of delivery, consultation, and feedback. For offline/asynchronous learning, a learning management system (LMS) will serve as a formal communication tool between the student and the teacher and as a repository of learning tools: homework, seatwork, projects, reports, instructional videos, handouts, and exams. In addition, some materials can be obtained via courier services: handouts, writing manuals, and other learning materials. The delivery of the lessons will depend heavily on the asynchronous mode (offline) to reduce dependence on high bandwidth internet connection and encourage self-directed learning, which is an important skill, especially for students in the higher levels.
The following schemes are designed to meet the requirements of the different subject areas during the distance learning program. A session is defined as a real-time meeting between the teacher and the student to discuss learning contents (lecture time) or to clarify lessons delivered during the real-time discussions (consultation time). Assessments may be either formative or summative depending on the needs of the subject areas mentioned below. Formative assessments are ways to evaluate how well the student has learned or understood the material. This may be done in the form of question-and-answer exchanges, recitation, seatwork, etc. Summative assessments are tests that evaluate how much the student has learned at the end of each lesson.
Note: There will be a separate memo on the new grading system for the distance learning program. We will also provide the hardware requirements for online learning.
During the course of devising this distance learning program, we have taken into consideration the ages of our students; their physical, emotional, and mental health; and the challenges that they may meet. As with anything new, both teachers and students have to go through a period of adjustment. To help our students ease into the new system, the following steps will be put in place:
- At the start of the school year, a number of sessions will be dedicated to the following:
- orienting the students and parents on ways to navigate the technology
- discussing the expectations in distance learning
- helping parents find ways to create learning nooks at home for their kids
- Daily routines such as attendance checking and homeroom activities will be established to help students develop a sense of belonging, familiarity, and regularity.
- Synchronous learning time will be shorter for our younger learners to prevent online learning fatigue.
- To promote health, there will be an online fitness program for physical activities such as five-to-10-minute exercise breaks in between synchronous learning classes (to prevent prolonged sitting or inactivity) and calisthenics or dance classes.
- Parents and students will be provided with email addresses of guidance officers and class advisers so that they may easily communicate their questions or concerns.
- Students who need counselling may arrange for online consultation time with their class advisers or guidance counselors via email.
- Small group remedial classes may be held for students who experience difficulty with their lessons.
- With teachers as moderators, online clubs such as art, music, or chess clubs are encouraged so that students may continue to share similar interests despite being physically apart.
During the course of the year, modifications may be made to the distance learning program depending on the evolving situation surrounding the COVID-19 crisis.
It is our fervent hope that Unean education remains as meaningful and relevant as it has always been despite the new learning system. Our dedicated teachers will work even harder to ensure that the joy of learning among our students does not diminish and that their affection and concern for their students are evident despite the physical distance observed.
From you, parents, we ask for patience, support, and cooperation. We remain one in our goal of providing your children (our students) with the best possible education. Let us continue to work together to achieve that goal.