The COVID-19 outbreak has caused not only economic downturn around the globe, but also educational disruptions, as most governments were forced to close schools to stop the spread of the virus.
As the pandemic is shaping the educational paradigm, Acer Philippines, the country’s leading computer brand in the PC market, has been at the forefront in ensuring that its Acer Academy program members will continue to benefit from the advancements of its EdTech capacity, amid the modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).
Acer recently launched a webinar—in partnership with school administrators, educators, and stakeholders who are adept in educational computerization—to tackle the challenges in the “new normal” and provide opportunities for innovations in the field of e-learning to facilitate the continuity of education. The webinar garnered a total of 1,077 online registrants, which indicate a growing public interest in subject matters relating to new learning platforms amid the pandemic.
“We’ve seen the past decades as fast adoption of digital transformation in schools. There’s really a need to harness learning beyond the boundaries of pedagogy and theory, even beyond the limits of geography and demographics,” said Sue Ong Lim, General Manager of Acer Philippines.
“We’ve seen Philippine schools, slowly but surely, evolved in this direction. However, we see that this pandemic has become a major tipping point to propel us to faster speed towards this digital transformation,” she added. With this, Acer has launched the Faculty and Student Purchase Program for Acer Academy members, which offers up to 30 percent discount on select Acer products and 50 percent less on internet plans. The computer company, in collaboration with Intel, will also be sponsoring scholars of qualified schools with laptops or desktops to allow education to thrive in the new normal.
Education in time of pandemic
Anna Cherylle Ramos, president of the Philippine eLearning Society and one of the panelists in the webinar, said that the pandemic has imposed a glaring set of challenges to some educators and students who are contending with difficulties in terms of readiness, device acquisition, and availability of connection.
But, on the other hand, it has also shaken up the global learning system, thus catalyzing for innovation as many educational institutions are compelled to embrace the new methods to sustain education. “There were variations in student readiness… A lot of our discussion on face-to-face is teacher-led. At this point, we need to create continuity plans that are contextual to the needs of colleges. We also made use of our institutional guides for students, and intensified our virtual and help desk for students in order to address this challenge,” said Ramos.
She added that, based on data, an effective workaround to continue learning is to plan out a flexible scheme by reducing the students’ learning tasks, setting longer submission time, limiting synchronous learning event, and encouraging the use of offline resources than online.
“A successful digital transformation starts with your deliberate action plan. Your vision will be supported by your school’s philosophy, consistent leadership, and acquiring technology or resources,” she said. For his part, Shane Laong of University of Santo Tomas Edtech Center said that compassion, commitment, and competence will weather the reactions in the change in learning process. He said these can be manifested by setting realistic expectations for students, considering their learning environment, observing leniency when creating learning activities and scheduling deadlines, and providing learning resources in multiple formats.
Remote Learning Collaboration
As e-learning is relatively a new approach to a lot of teachers, most of responses hint that they are still at a loss of which platforms to use.
Technology giants, such as Microsoft, are stepping up to bring new solutions to aid learning process by providing platforms to recreate learning environment experience online, and collaborate, share files, and present. Paolo Balinas, Microsoft Enterprise Channel manager for Education, said trends show that harnessing technology caters to students with varying learning styles and preferences, as well as promotes active participation among family members and develops learners to be independent.
For Microsoft, the company is offering free learning management solution—the Microsoft Team—to enable successful implementation of remote learning. MS Team is a portal where teachers and students can hold virtual classes, collaborate, and even make grades.
“Technology is a great enabler of how we could further improve the mode of delivery of education,” he said.