by Myka Isabel D. Basco
In our country, the classroom scenario where teachers and students have handheld devices replacing blackboards and books may sound too modish, futuristic and seemingly unattainable; come to think of it, a few years back it may appear to be more of a movie scene than a reality. Thinking about it now, setting aside all doubts, this scene has actually come true and this time it is definitely for real.
La Salle Green Hills and Miriam College, two of the famous colleges in the country have both taken initiatives in bringing the Philippine education system to a new and revolutionary level. They have partnered with the gadget industry in creating appropriate technologies that would definitely transform the learning process of Filipino students.
Through the partnership with Samsung Electronics Philippines Corp. (Sepco), La Salle Green Hills (LSGH) was the first in the country’s basic education community to use the tablet PC as a primary tool of learning. They started with the fifth grade students using an electronic board, a device known as Pearl.
In Miriam College (MC), they’ve come up with their own E-Learning tool project to a pilot batch of First Year High School students. “Pre-Christmas break of school year 2010-2011, in the line of institution’s trust towards STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, we thought of availing the most versatile form of mobile and digital learning device that is not actually a replacement of instruction but rather an ‘aid instruction’,” said Miriam College High School Principal, Mr. Edizon A. Fermin, Ph.D.
As students hit the Books
“At first, I thought e-Learning would mean a change in my study habits. The idea of learning via e-Tablet or gadgets, so to say, was quite unimaginable since it can amount to numerous possibilities. Personally, I have been used to books and other hardbound resources when studying,” said third year high school student of La Salle Green Hills, Kirk Kierulf.
For students like Kirk, it’s really hard for them to adjust since they are used to the traditional way of learning wherein notebooks, ball pens, and books were used. But their perception in learning swiftly changed and they appreciated the existence of e-Tablets.
“One benefit of the use of e-Tablet is that the students will no longer have to bring their heavy books to school because eBooks are already loaded in their e-Tablets. It also teaches students the value of responsibility since they will need to be responsible for their e-Tablets like having to charge them before going to school or having to make sure that they’re always kept in a safe place to avoid any losses,” Kierulf added.
But most of all, the use of e-Tablets has made class discussions more interesting because they are now intertwined through it; with just a few clicks away, learning has never been more fun and easy.
Educators Moving Forward As Well
Miriam College President, Dr. Rosario Oreta-Lapus who’s very much into updates about new technologies in learning, thought that it would benefit a lot of their students if they’re engaged in some sort of blended learning environment where digital and mobile learning can be maximized. Eventually, after serious of other meetings, they made their final decision and immediately conducted orientations to parents telling them that they will be shifting towards the e-learning tool project.
Miriam College has partnered with Diwa Learning Systems, Inc., which developed ‘Genyo E-Learning’, their Online Learning Management System. Students from Grade 10 have been using Acer Iconia Tab 200 while Samsung Galaxy for the students from Grade 9 level.
Fermin also talked briefly about the benefits of digital learning from the vantage point of four different types of stakeholders. The first one being the students, then the teachers, the school leaders and the greater community where the parents have formed a special part.
According to Fermin, when it comes to the students, “Theirs is the era of real and hardcore learner centeredness. To be effective, you have to bring in to the classroom the kind of interests, the kind of learning styles, and the kind of environment the students have grown up with, the digital age. They are the natives that are born with the skills and competencies required of this era. This has a huge impact on adults who are starting to learn more.
“They collect data mining with several windows at a time in a way that they get so much information. And this is also the time when learners create knowledge and use knowledge differently. They’re actually born with the capacity to expand knowledge at the basis of what they see first then adopt it to certain context. We are dealing with them the way we should in terms of their developmental capacities”.
In terms of the advantage of teachers, it recreated and reinvented the concept of planning instructions because before they only had to concern themselves on “How the presentation would work?”, “What quiz will I give?”. This time they had to think of things in the perspective of how it will fit with the platform. Which online resource will be good to use? Which will engage most to students into active learning?
It is now a different level of learning because there’s technology interface. Technology is integrated in the learning process. Just like any other form of implementation, Fermin also admitted that they had encountered many problems along the way.
What Parents have to say…
When it comes to the greater community where parents are the majority, some have been very supportive with the advancements in education while others weren’t too obliging. A parent from Miriam College once said, “It sounds cliché to say that the best gift that they could give their daughters is the quality of education that the school can offer. More than that, what they really mean is, they may not be able to fully migrate to their (daughter’s) world right now because they cannot fully understand yet how the digital world works. But with what the school offers, they are confident they will be guided the right way.
A parent from La Salle Green Hills shared to us, “When the idea was first presented to us, I was so excited for my son. He was only in K2 then and already his bag was very heavy for his size. In La Salle, the kids bring most of their things to school everyday. The idea of not having books to bring to school but only the E-tab would be a great help.”
The parent also added that he/she felt proud to know that LSGH is pioneering this kind of learning system for their students. “It was Mr. Jun Lozada who explained the reason behind this project. The cost of the gadget and the e-books of course came in secondary. My husband and I just took it as an investment. Anyway, kids nowadays already demand for tablets so being able to use it in school is a plus factor,” the parent said.
TechLifestyle also asked the parent regarding his/her first experience, if it satisfied or disappointed them and the reply was, “Honestly, in the first year of implementation (SY 2012-2013), we were a bit disappointed because some of the e-books were not complete. Also, there were occasions where the e-book reader itself would not open. However, La Salle would often send us letters on how to remedy problems in using the e-tab and there is a department in charge for troubleshooting”.
According to the parent, for this year (SY 2013-2014), there have been major improvements to the program. The e-book reader and the La Salle E-reader are working properly and faster compared to the previous year. Bugs or errors in the past have already been resolved and so far, they have not yet encountered errors while using the programs.
Furthermore, the parent also shared that although the kids are allowed to install other games or applications on their E-Tab, La Salle has installed a program that disables the installed applications from Monday until Friday so as to prevent the children from being distracted by non-school app activities during school days. The same program is then unlocked before the kids go home every Friday.
Overall, the parent pointed out that, “We are happy with the changes but of course, there is still room to further enhance the programs used specifically the e-book readers”.