Learning modalities in the time of pandemic
One of the features of School Form 9, known as Learner’s Report Card, that has just been issued to parents and guardians at the end of school year 2020-2021 is the learning modality of the students. I was thus amused to find “blended learning” indicated in my children’s cards because as far as I knew, my children engaged in modular-distance learning (MDL) and was given a little bit of online-distance learning (ODL), but not blended learning.
The characteristics of the above-mentioned modalities and other learning modalities are given on pages 30 to 32 of the Basic Education Learning Continuity Plan in the time of Covid-19 (BE-LCP), which is an enclosure to Department of Education Order 12, s. 2020. In the enclosure, blended learning is defined as “a learning delivery that combines face-to-face with any or a mix of online distance learning, modular distance learning, and TV/radio-based instruction (RBI).” Thus, blended learning may be face-to-face with MDL or ODL or TV/RBI (any), or face-to-face with MDL and ODL (mix). The bottom line is blended learning includes face-to-face interaction between teachers and learners in school.
Blended learning, the definition adds, “will enable schools to limit face-to-face learning, ensure social distancing, and decrease the volume of people outside the home at any given time.” Note that the word used is “limit,” not “prohibit.”
Further down the enclosure, on page 36 and under the discussion on assessment, it is stated, “Where face-to-face learning and blended learning is possible, summative tests will be administered in school.” Again, this shows that blended learning involves face-to-face interaction as students will have to go to school for their exams.
Why, then, was I amused to find blended learning in my children’s cards?
First, DO 12, where the BE-LCP was enclosed, was issued on June 19, 2020, with DepEd still hoping face-to-face learning be allowed where feasible. However, until and even after classes began on Oct. 5, the President remained firm against face-to-face classes. Therefore, no face-to-face learning occurred, at least in all public schools that I know here in Baguio. My three children were enrolled in public schools – two in high school and one in elementary.
Second, at no time during this just-concluded school year were my children called to school for their examinations.
Third, as in the school where I teach and, I believe, in many other public schools, the prevailing modality used was actually MDL. While teachers in their passion, generosity, kindness, and dedication to duty, provided materials online to supplement the printed modules, even “meeting” their students a few or several times through social media, the actual modality remained to be MDL. Didn’t this combination of print and non-print materials constitute blended learning? No, because there wasn’t the element of face-to-face learning.
My children’s report cards were signed by the respective principals of their schools: If they really implemented blended learning when face-to-face instruction was prohibited, then they admitted an offense for which prosecution is possible. On the other hand, if they just misread the meaning of blended learning and assumed that it was the modality being practiced in their schools when in fact it was not, I propose that the offense be pardoned.
I hope that principals and teachers will be able to enlighten or orient properly the parents and guardians of their students who will be enrolling in their schools this next school year, especially in the matter of learning modality being used. Let us – schools and teachers – always strive to give the right information. Let us not create an impression that something is where there isn’t, nor that something happened where it didn’t.
Blended learning, like pure face-to-face learning, looks good in our documents and seems to add to our accomplishments amidst this time of pandemic. Still, it remains – for the time being – a wish. (RYAN B. GAYAGAY)