Challenges to Education under the New Normal

Quarantine and lockdown brought about by the Corona Virus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) have forced a ‘new normal’ for elementary and high schools all over the Philippines: no face-to-face classroom teaching and instead online education. This is scheduled to start on August 24, 2020.

While this might ordinarily be an exciting prospect, only 40 percent of the teachers nationwide have been trained for online education.

In the province of Capiz and the Visayas, that figure may even be lower! For many teachers, trying to teach students solely on a laptop screen may be a frightful and disappointing experience, filled with a real fear of failure.

Given the rapidity and spread of the Covid-19 virus infection, there has been little or no time for educational agencies to provide even introductory training for teachers, at elementary and high school levels, particularly in the public schools.

It is hoped that through this series of articles, at least some preliminary ideas and practices can be shared with administrators and the teachers, and prepare them for online teaching.

I will be calling on my seven years of blended teaching of history and languages—that is, using online teaching methods in support of interactive classroom teaching, and recently, some total online teaching.

This series will start with learning management systems that should be organized by school administrators. Then we will discuss the technical background required in terms of WiFi and access to internet; and suggested technical equipment required.

We will then tackle the methods for preparing an online session; the tricks and procedures needed for online teaching to advantage with millennial students!

Of course, there must be some obligatory logistics first. Both teachers and students need to have access to strong WiFi signals in order to ensure the smooth running of classes, and a clear understanding of lessons.

For students, this might be an additional cost and should be budgeted in the family. Otherwise, students may have to look for a cafe or public place where interconnectivity is available without cost—but the surrounding environment might not always be supportive as a learning situation.

Second, both teacher and students need to have technical equipment to access WiFi and participate in the lessons. These could be a desktop computer; a laptop; a tablet; or a Smartphone, a cellular phone with capability of accessing WiFi and basic applications for teaching and learning. Again, for some families, a Smartphone or tablet, and even a computer could be a difficult item to budget for!

Third, both teacher and student need a quiet place where they can access WiFi and hold classes. The student might choose the family sala or may prefer a more private and cozy corner in his or her room. If there is no WiFi at home, the student may have to search a suitable location where it can be accessed to enable a positive learning experience.

Fourth, for effective face-to-face communication, both teacher and students must be able to access and participate in a ‘meeting’ type apps, like Skype or Google Meet or Zoom.

Zoom is perhaps the most developed and flexible app, available for all types of digital devices. It can be downloaded without cost.

These are only introductory notes, to alert teachers, students and their parents to what may be expected in online education. It is an adventure in which all stakeholders—teachers, students and parents—must actively participate—if it were to be beneficial.