Last 2020, the Filipino people faced a lot of atrocities brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic. One included blended learning, which challenged many people—students, teachers, and even parents. In a nutshell, it combined the efforts of traditional education and online classes throughout the school year.
Blended learning aimed to combine the traditional classroom setting with modular distance learning through handouts and activity books sent to students before the school year started. The educational sector looked forward to reducing face-to-face interaction and promoting social distancing. Plus, it helped them prevent exposure to the virus.
But, according to a survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) last March 13, 2021, where it resulted that every 9 out of 10 Filipino families endured challenges when thinking or doing the modular classes at home.
But were people ever ready for this new normal?
Blended learning, a deja vu?
Before the pandemic derailed all the activities people generally do, the Education Secretary found distance learning and online classes to be a friendly approach by some educational institutions around the country. She further stated that this kind of learning had been done for decades.
To illustrate, she mentioned that the University of the Philippines has been offering distance education for some time now and that people who pursue a degree in education has already encountered this.
However, the ugly truth about this is that not all have access to conduct blended learning. Some schools lack teachers and other paraphernalia to host the classes. In the end, they struggle to guide their children with their school works in addition to managing survival in the middle of a pandemic.
The struggles of blended learning in the Philippines
Not all family members are equipped or knowledgeable about navigating the difficulty. Some may live with their grandparents, who may not know how online classrooms work. Others may live with parents who need to work onsite. Hence, leaving the kids at home with little to no supervision.
Another challenge that families face is the scarcity of devices that students can use to attend their online classes. Moreover, the strength of the internet connection plays a vital role in conducting and participating in classes. If most students and teachers work with a costly link that is insufficient for their needs, it frustrates more people.
The lack of internet connection, devices, and even the handouts give a different level of pain and challenge to every student, teacher, and household navigating through blended learning. These people lack support from those they look up to, doubles or triples the challenge they experience. Therefore, some end up stopping their education altogether and engaging in activities that will help them earn a living to put food on their tables.
On the other hand, some locals receive help from local government units that help them go through the necessary classes. This alleviated the hardship they faced and helped them accomplish their studies.
How to retain the authentic classroom feeling?
Another challenge about blended learning is that students feel quite differently when they interact through an online platform. Some students sit and watch videos that may have been pre-recorded already. This gives a different feeling to the students as hearing and interacting with their teachers live a humanistic approach.
When students encounter a hurdle or a stump in their modules, they find it tough to raise questions because they fear getting disconnected will always be there. Even asking their classmates feels tough since some may use older devices and some use a slower connection.
Instilling an effective self-paced learning environment
How do students of today establish a routine that they can follow through?
Pacing yourself and establishing self-discipline among yourselves may seem challenging, especially if you study and attend classes at home. Home is where you are most comfortable, and it automatically feels different from transforming it into a place where you focus and do your school works.
One of the main things you could do is separate your bedroom from your study place or workplace. It was easier since they were at two different locations. Students would change into their uniforms and go to school. Then they would go home to do their assignments and rest.
However, things changed, and students attended their classes at home and even in their respective bedrooms with no clear boundaries, whether they were doing their household chores or school work. It’s tough to create boundaries, primarily when you must fulfill your duties at home and your student obligations.
The blur in that area gives every student a challenge they need to overcome. That feeling of being too comfortable never fades away, making students feel relaxed and multitask, including playing games while attending classes. Therefore, pulling their attention from listening to their teachers.
How to make blended learning in the Philippines work?
Implementing different strategies to improve the quality of learning will require support from all parties involved. That includes the school administration, students, teachers, and even the educational sect.
Before jumping onto any boats or methods, research is conducted correctly to properly discover the right ways to function as a unit.
Make sure you ask these questions:
- Do the students and teachers get enough support?
- Will they receive the right tools in time?
- How will they answer the modules?
- When will they submit the responses to modules?
- What’s your contingency plan for a power outage or connectivity issues?
Blended learning is challenging as it is, and amplified by the pandemic. Don’t rush into things if you don’t have the right tools. Navigate slowly and ensure safety before running to conduct face-to-face classes.