Understanding Education Continuity via Flexible Learning

As the Philippines continues to return to a semblance of normalcy with a sense of caution from the still-growing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, education will be one of the many aspects of everyday life that will face many changes in today’s “new normal”. For the new school year, students, parents, teachers, and school administrators will have to deal with the new set of challenges brought by the new modes of learning recommended by the Department of Education (DepEd).

DepEd has previously announced that, while schools will formally open on August 24, the new school year might not entail physical classes until the safety of students and teachers is assured. According to Education Secretary Leonor Briones, schools will now follow a “blended learning” or “flexible learning” approach to education.

What it entails
Each school may differ in its approach to learning, which includes the following:

  • Online classes, wherein tech-enabled tools will be utilized to conduct classes through the Internet;
  • Modular learning, wherein students or communities without Internet access will be provided with printed learning materials; and
  • Television- and radio-based instructions, wherein television and radio stations will be broadcasting lessons to communities without Internet access.

Apart from these approaches, other school divisions are planning to implement their own approach to flexible learning:

DepEd Navotas is in the process of testing an alternative arrangement, with households without smartphones or laptops given a package containing learning packets and other materials needed to facilitate learning at home.
DepEd Cagayan Valley plans on utilizing instructor-led video sessions for students with special needs. This approach will make use of videotaped lessons, along with modules. “We still have to give these learners the same kind of care that we gave them while we were doing face-to-face classes,” said DepEd Cagayan Valley Director Estela Cariño.

Preferred modes of learning
Based on the recent numbers from DepEd, over 10 million students have been enrolled in public schools for the new school year, while over 700,000 students will be attending private schools. When asked during enrollment, enrollees have different preferences when it comes to the mode of learning:

  • More than 3 million prefer modular learning
  • More than 2 million prefer online classes
  • More than 1 million prefer a blend of face-to-face education with other modes of learning

Teachers and school administrators, for their part, have been hard at work in preparing for these new modalities of learning.

  • Since May, schools have been producing Self-Learning Modules (SLMs), which will be integrated into any alternative learning delivery modality. These SLMs can take any form, be it an ebook, audio book, or video.
  • Training is underway to upskill and reskill teachers in line with these new learning modes. Programs on Learning Delivery Modalities are ongoing until July, while professional development training will begin in the first half of August.

As Education Secretary Briones has noted, most of these modes of flexible learning, particularly online learning, have already been in place for the past few years. With schools compelled to forego traditional classes to safeguard the health of its students and teachers, flexible learning will be key in continuing learning in the new normal.


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