Navigating education in COVID-19 times
Nonnette C. Bennett
The most affected sector by Covid-19 quarantine is education. Perhaps, because it touches the growth and development of half of the world’s population – the youth.
The Department of Education must be at its wits end to make the hybrid education work, particularly in the far- flung areas. The greater challenge is how the children and parents will be able to cope with technology as a teacher, modules as learning tool, and the lack of social interaction which makes up 90 percent of learning.
Online learning and school administration will be a drastic and enormous paradigm shift. Teachers must provide the content of the subject areas on video and reading modules, must assess the understanding of the lesson with online tools, must determine the progress by the satisfactory completion of the course, and must manage the virtual classroom through login attendance. This will not include the requirement of one-on-one or group classes online which will simulate the interaction of the teacher and students in a physical class. Another vital point is to keep the student attentive.
This scenario of education requires applications to ensure the management and administration of these virtual classrooms. Ensuring the system or portal on which to launch these virtual modules and tools are applications available online. Many have similar features and activities that focus on courses in pre-school, elementary, secondary and higher education. Recently, I have encountered two applications that may be useful to educators and schools.
Apptitude is one edtech platform designed by lawyer Marcelino G. Veloso. He says, ”Apptitude is now technically compliant with the strict rules of the Supreme Court on online Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE). The rules require “basic” and “streaming” KYC (know your customer) to ensure authenticity of the learner and the learning process. We’re in talks with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ chapters and private providers who are now seeking accreditation from the MCLE board.” This simply means that the platform has been accredited by the SC and is reliable and compliant with laws on privacy, too.
According to him, this application allows school administrators to manage enrollment, payments, courses, attendance, grading systems, completions, issuance of certifications, and the whole system online.
Content of the courses will be the new role of the teacher or instructor, “like a lesson plan”, he said. Not like before, the lesson plan is written but the execution is actual. In the application, a tool for the teacher is available to load the lesson in video and word content with assessment tools while the student progresses until completion of a course or subject. As in a classroom, the student may learn the course according to their pace, says Veloso. But the platform allows the teacher varied ways of using the course design and has no control over the content. He notes that this is where the value of the teacher or instructor varies from school to school. This is where the cost of the content by the human inputs comply with the required curriculum. The attendance is verified by face recognition matched with a school ID and recorded by the system. The grades and completion recorded electronically. Teachers can access the information of the students and their progress. The administration can view enrolments and access payments made online or through bank deposits. They have the information on the staff and the course contents at their fingertips. Only that in Covid-19 times, they are virtual. The cost for the use of the platform is P100 per student per month, according to Veloso.
Pre-school education also has an application for parents to see the progress of their child’s education through the illumine.app which is downloadable in the Apple app store. I Googled for education apps and came across this information. Surprisingly, Tasneem Sardaria, gave me a call from New Jersey, U.S.A. within five minutes of my inquiry online. She asked if she could show me the features of the application the next day, I requested the same day and within 30 minutes she gave me a presentation.
Essentially, the platform of illumine.app is also an India – based administration system. However, this system is for physical school attendance. Here the parents have access to the schedule of the child at the school. The teacher uploads the time schedule of subjects the child will take on the day. Upon completion of the tasks, a photo of the child is sent or uploaded for the parent to view the progress. Parents are able to comment and send their child encouragement or approval with buttons on the system. Even the food given during snacks are shown. Tasneem said that daily and weekly lesson plans are available and the assessment of the child’s progress in the different development areas can be readily viewed by their parents. A newsletter program is available for the teacher to inform the parents on scheduled activities and completed programs at the school. This platform costs $2 per student for all the perks of school, teacher, parent, and student information.
Navigating education through the Covid-19 times will require more creative challenges for the educator because they need to do detailed work with technology. The classroom is virtual and systematic unlike the interactive physical classroom that varies from day to day and season to season. The new normal will not be negotiable and subjective, it will be strict and steadfast. Veloso says, “the risk is there is no social connection and real – life interaction is removed like extracurricular activities. Then it is not education which is built on connection.”