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Rehashing Older Technology | Bridging the Gaps in Remote Learning – Part 3

Part 3 Panellists - Bridging the Gaps in Remote Learning - Rehashing Older Tech

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In the final session of the webinar series Bridging the Gaps in Remote Learning, our speakers discussed how older technology can be repurposed to meet the needs of students, particularly in under-resourced schools and communities. Bringing forward lessons from last week’s session, moderator Dr Carmela C. Oracion, Director of the Ateneo Center for Educational Development in the Philippines, reminded us that it is in these times of remote learning that the resourcefulness and ingenuity of educators shine through, experimenting and crafting solutions catered to their students’ unique circumstances.

Mr Teerawat Luanrit, Director of Buddhajakwittaya School in Thailand, opened discussions with his school’s PAE model of remote learning. Alluding to the Thai word pae, meaning school bag, PAE is a three-step action plan consisting of Planning and Preparing, Action, and Evaluation. The school conducted a survey with its teachers, students and parents to determine the best form of instruction needed for students to have a positive learning experience, and for teachers to have a professional remote teaching experience. As most students only had access to smart phones, the school adopted a hybrid teaching model that involved a blend of printed learning packs, telephone calls and television lessons broadcasted by the government, to complement asynchronous YouTube video lessons and Zoom lessons. By considering and catering to the students’ and teachers’ unique circumstances, the school delivered lessons using older technologies such as telephone and pen and paper, to ensure no learning loss.

In a similar spirit of ensuring that lessons reach as many students as possible and in an affordable manner, Dr Yolanda Marin-Gonzales, Principal IV of Capas National High School in the Philippines, shared how her school set up a two-way radio school broadcast that reaches more than 7000 students. The school constructed a Radio Broadcast Instruction (RBI) room, acquired relevant RBI tools and technologies, and conducted training workshops for teachers to prepare them as radio instructors. Dr Marin-Gonzales also introduced Project KITE, an acronym for Knowledge Integration in Technology Education: a philosophy that ties together educators and other stakeholders in a collaboration to uplift students and their learning outcomes.

Finally, Mr Jaton Zulueta, Executive Director and Founder of the AHA Learning Center in the Philippines, shared his unique adaptations of radio lessons and the characteristics of radio as an instructional medium. Mr Zulueta shared that in the beginning, they made the grave mistake of assuming that radio classes could be carried out in the same manner as online classes. By analysing the best radio shows, Mr Zulueta discovered that the key to effective student engagement was having a good story. Deeply saddened by the passing of one of his students, Mr Zulueta used his own story of grief to connect to listeners, conveying important lessons on mental health and emotional regulation, and inspired his audience to carry on bravely, especially in this period of loss of normalcy. He developed three guiding principles for his radio lessons: (1) Ask “what is causing my community pain?”; (2) Understand that every lesson can have a deeper subtext and purpose; and (3) Find partners whose content can be repurposed. With this in place, AHA radio delivered heartfelt and relevant lessons that inculcated in its listeners not just subject mastery, but also the relevance of subjects such as English and Mathematics in daily living, and the deeper purpose of self-expression, communication and storytelling.

Over the past three sessions of this webinar series, nine outstanding and passionate educators have shared their unique experiences and the creative usage of technology to bridge the gaps in remote learning. As Dr Oracion surmised, online instruction is much more complex than simply transplanting face-to-face pedagogy and modalities onto a virtual platform. Educators must consider the unique contexts and needs of all their students as they design effective and innovative online teaching and learning methods. Both Dr Oracion and Mr Vignesh Naidu, Director of Operations at The HEAD Foundation, emphasised the larger roles parents will need to play as co-educators in supporting their child’s learning and development as future leaders.

As Mr Zulueta puts it, as many of us continue to work from home, perhaps we should start working from hope. Teachers can take solace in the small ways their efforts still impact students’ lives, despite physical distance and great challenges. Perhaps we can inspire everyone to work from hope, understanding that every small action counts towards the inspiration and development of a child, so that years down the line younger generations may pay it forward to make the world a better place than that they found.

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