In Using Digital Tools, the second part of the series Bridging the Gaps in Remote Learning, our three speakers continued exploring ways in which educators can enhance remote learning. They shared readily available digital tools to support teachers as they adapt their pedagogies to ensure continued learning in an online environment. Series moderator Dr Carmela C. Oracion, Director of the Ateneo Center for Educational Development, opened discussions with a quote from Winston Churchill, reminding educators to “never let a good crisis go to waste”, and to continue to adapt and improve pedagogies through the era of remote learning.
Prof Yeap Ban Har, Director of Curriculum and Teacher Development at Pathlight School in Singapore and Anglo Singapore International School in Thailand, started the session with a framework to help educators choose the right tools for their classroom. Going beyond the basic concerns of digital pedagogy such as how one may conduct an online test, educators need to question, “How may we engage students’ learning to provide them with appropriate learning experiences? Are we providing facts, directions, explanations, or promoting understanding?” Asking questions that centre classroom design around students will help educators decide which tools and methods are best for them. Taking into account the costs of video streaming, Ms Sabrina Ongkiko of Culiat Elementary School in the Philippines utilised Facebook Messenger as the primary tool to deliver her text- and photo-based online classes. She also innovated unique pedagogies to deliver interactive and engaging lessons to her pupils, including learning coding to develop a chatbot as an interactive assessment tool.
As a timely reminder, Prof Yeap also emphasised that while tools, such as Noosphere and Jamboard, can be effectively used in delivering information and driving discussion, teachers still remain crucial in delivering inspirational content, facilitating critical engagement and checking student understanding. When Ms Ongkiko and her school chose Facebook Messenger as the school’s primary digital teaching tool, they adapted and included social media aspects – emojis and voice messages – in their curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. Using a familiar tool in a time of great change gave students and their families a sense of ease and safety when engaging with virtual lessons.
Ms Aury R. Atienza-Santos at SEAMEO INNOTECH’s Education Innovations Unit introduced the Mobile Technology for Teachers (MT4T) pack, a free teacher resource kit developed by SEAMEO INNOTECH to support teachers’ usage of mobile technology for 21st century learning. In particular, Ms Atienza-Santos touched on the e-citizenship guide, which introduced teachers to the basics of digital literacy and digital citizenship. Taking into account the higher amounts of screen time teachers and students alike are getting during remote learning, this resource helps keep teachers updated on digital safety and technology usage, and also provides toolkits to aid with designing online lessons to help students be safe and responsible users of technology. Similarly, Prof Yeap commented that educators should prepare students to become independent self-learners, and balance the responsible use of technology to support their own learning. Instead of being overly policed for their digital usage, students should be coached in self-regulating how they engage with technology, and use it to further their own learning outcomes at their own pace.
As we continue with pedagogical innovations, how can we ensure learners with less resources can access these innovative pedagogy and curriculum adaptations in the new normal? In the third and final session of this series, we will explore how older technologies such as radio and government-provided resources can be rehashed, to ensure no child is left behind in the era of remote learning.