Education this year has been abruptly disrupted due to the pandemic. It’s not just in the country, but in many parts of the world that have been affected. The school year is supposed to start this June, but since we haven’t flattened the curve yet, parents are adamant to send their children to school for fear of acquiring the virus.
Good thing though, homeschooling aka home education has been going on in the Philippines for many years now. It’s an educational option with different philosophies and methods. Children can study the same lessons and subjects that private or public school students learn or opt for a less conventional approach where the parents base their children’s lessons on their own readiness and skill levels.
To date, there are many options for home school-based programs. You can actually enroll your child up to college though there is only a handful that offers college online courses and one of which is iACADEMY.
iACADEMY is a Makati-based school that offers Senior High and select College Courses. Last June 2, I attended the school’s webinar for parents and students to get a “glimpse” of how it works and it’s flexible remote learning for students to ease the transition to what might be the “new normal” for educational institutions.
The webinar was facilitated by Mr. Jake Aragon, SHS Principal, and Ms. Cecilia Sy, VP for Academic Affairs (College). The discussion was about what entails flexible remote learning and the preparations the school has done to ensure the continuous and dynamic delivery of education for its students.
Even before the pandemic happened, iACADEMY has already been implementing technology-enabled learning by utilizing various online platforms and tools like NEO and Google Classroom to deliver lessons. With the current health crisis and government pronouncements prohibiting the conduct of face-to-face classes, iACADEMY has decided to roll out its new approach called GOAL or Guided Online Autonomous Learning.
While most traditional or progressive schools are cramming in expediting the use of “online learning”, iAcademy, on the other hand, is ready than ever. They will implement an online distance learning program called GOAL which is designed to provide a flexible, relevant, balanced, and collaborative learning experience to students.
“It is learner-centered because it factors in the learning capacity of the students and provides learning activities that are engaging, relevant, and outcome-based. The focus is to equip students with the essential knowledge, values, and skills to prepare them for future challenges in their careers. It’s also faculty-directed because students are still guided, monitored, and mentored by our professors in spite of the absence of face-to-face interaction. The professors will continue to do regular check-ins on students to know how they are doing and how they are managing their time and workload,” said Cecilia Sy, iACADEMY’s Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Flexible remote learning defined
According to Sy, Flexible learning is a multi-faceted approach to learning where students are given options on how, what, when, and where they learn. It is the overarching drive, philosophy, or approach behind the other methods of delivering instruction.
“I want to emphasize that Flexible Learning is student-centered because it encourages and empowers students to be autonomous or independent which is a key attribute that enables them to manage the challenges in the 21st century. Flexible Learning combines and expands familiar approaches to teaching and learning. Face-to-face classes, blended learning, and distance learning are part and parcel of flexible learning,” Sy explained.
In short, flexible learning draws on different approaches and methods of delivering instruction that is most suitable to the circumstances and needs of the learners.
Meanwhile, Blended Learning refers to delivering lessons through face-to-face and online classes. This means some lessons are taught in a traditional classroom set-up and others are taught online.
Distance learning, on the other hand, pertains to delivering instruction remotely. The key elements in distance learning are time and space. In this set-up, students are not in the same physical room with their teachers and classmates while learning. Learning sessions are conducted synchronously and asynchronously.
Synchronous learning is conducting learning sessions where students and professors interact and collaborate in real-time. This can be done either through face-to-face classes or through remote or distance learning enabled by technology. This set-up allows immediate feedback because it facilitates the exchange of ideas and information in real-time.
In Asynchronous learning, professors and students collaborate but not in real-time. The professors provide offline learning materials or resources that students study or work on in their own time. This includes tutorial videos, recorded lectures, and demonstrations, modules, learning guides and other reading materials. Students and professors communicate through discussion boards, emails, or instant messaging. These tools are used for consultation and feedback.
“Contrary to what most people think, asynchronous learning has its benefits. In this format, students develop self-discipline and a sense of ownership of their learning because they are given some autonomy on how to pace themselves. It allows them to spend more time on challenging lessons and work toward mastery. Students can still collaborate with their teachers and classmates through chat boxes and discussion boards,” Sy further explained.
Delivery of quality education through flexible remote learning
“Quality education will still be achieved through GOAL because our teachers will continue to share their expertise through online channels,” said Jake Aragon, iACADEMY’s Senior High School Principal.
He added that instructors and professors can effectively assess a student’s performance in a flexible learning set-up through the careful use of grading criteria and rubrics that measure learning. “Also, we will allow students to create projects anchored on their voice and choice. There will be a focus on learning styles,” Aragon shared.
“The administration of exams will also be done online; in addition, projects that will be required as final assessments will be designed according to what is practical and meaningful for students,” he said.
Some parents asked about the lab facilities and the equipment in school that are also an integral part of learning. No problem because it can be done via the distance learning approach.
A regular desktop or laptop and reliable internet connection are just what the students need to learn the course. Concepts and skills can be learned through live demonstrations or tutorial videos.
How the school would know if the students truly learned the lessons?
There will be assessments or projects much like the exams in actual schools which can gauge and evaluate the students. The activities and assessments are designed for students to demonstrate and apply the skills or competencies they learned.
Parents’ support and cooperation are greatly needed to make this work and to be successful. It’s of great importance to create a suitable and organized study area for the child with minimized to no distractions. Following a regular study pattern is also advised for the completion of learning tasks.
It all boils down to a harmoniously and open communication with iAcademy, parents, and students to make the most out of online learning.
If you’re looking for an alternative to a traditional school, check out iAcademy:
Check out the Website: http://www.iacademy.edu.ph/
Join iAcademy Viber Community: https://invite.viber.com