Schools pilot virtual classrooms in region
Ten public elementary schools in the Cordillera will extend the implementation of the virtual classroom, one of the distance learning modalities adopted by the Department of Education during the lockdowns as a precaution against the Covid-19 to ensure unhampered learning.
While schools have started implementing limited face-to-face classes in areas under Covid-19 alert level 1 status, the DepEd-Cordillera launched the Project Virtual Classroom on June 6 at Baguio Central School (BCS) as its way of innovating delivery of education, and to apply the lessons learned during the pandemic, which according to DepEd-Cordillera Director Estela Cariño may prove providing quality education is also possible with distance learning using the online platform.
The virtual classroom aims to provide meaningful, interactive, and quality delivery of distance learning among Cordilleran learners initially from kindergarten to grade 3.
Cariño said aside from addressing the Covid-19, the virtual classroom will also help solve the Cordillera’s problem on lack of classrooms.
The 10 pilot schools of the project are in two batches, with a total of 444 learners in the region.
Batch 1 is composed of 161 learners: Bangued West CS in Abra with 29 learners from grade 3; BCS in Baguio City with 41 learners from grade 2; Benguet SPED Center with 28 grade 3 learners; Kiangan CS in Ifugao with 22 grade 2 learners; Sagada CS in Mountain Province with 23 grade learners; and Tabuk City CS with 18 kindergarten learners.
For batch 2, there will be 283 more learners: Bangued West CS with 34 learners; Flora CS in Apayao – 25 grade 3 learners and 35 grade 2 learners; BCS – 65 grade 4 learners; Puguis ES in La Trinidad, Benguet – 35 grade 3 learners; La Trinidad CS – 40 grade 4 learners; Lagawe CS with 25 grade 3 learners; and Sagada CS with 24 grade 3 learners.
What’s the difference of virtual classroom from having it in Google app?
“Here, the teacher is actually teaching in the classroom and the learners are viewing their teacher in their gadget we have provided,” Cariño said.
She said there should be interaction between and among the learners like in the classroom and they can ask questions, raise their hand, and see their classmates in the screen.
“Before when there were lockdowns, we cannot ask the teachers to go to schools, and we have seen the difficulties in printing and distribution of modules. We have also seen that if we just stick to printing the modules, we learned our lessons from what happened in Visayas and other parts of Luzon when there were strong typhoons and all these modules worth millions were destroyed. We asked the schools to think of other ways and strategies of implementing our lessons, and we appreciate that they accepted the challenge (to innovate),” Cariño said.
The pilot schools selected are those with Internet connection. The DepEd-CAR provided recipient learners tablets and Internet load. Teachers have been provided with online teaching devices and undergone training on its use.
“The success of this pilot virtual classroom will inspire or at least give a signal that it can be done. We will be monitoring for difficulties that may be encountered, but we see success in this because it will not only lessen the expenses of the parents because their children can be in the houses, but it may provide evidence that we learned something from the lessons of the pandemic – that we can have several modalities, and gone are the days when we say learning can just happen in in-person classes,” Cariño said.
She added the adoption of the virtual classroom and that schools should not get away from blended or hybrid learning will be indicated in the DepEd-CAR’s recommendations to the central office under the incoming administration.
“We should not go back to the usual thing that we do, letting our learners come to school every day, and just doing the same thing copying and listening to lessons, when learning can happen at home. We hope we will be part of the team that will tell the story that blended learning can also give quality learning,” she added. – Hanna C. Lacsamana