MANILA — Armed with the goal to fast-track digital transformation in public schools nationwide, the Department of Education (DepEd) has launched its first cyber expo on education and technology.
Some 4,080 students and teachers from 16 divisions in the National Capital Region (NCR) attended the three-day event at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on March 12-14 to learn about the latest technologies promoting quality learning and teaching.
Wilfred Moledo, one of the delegates, is a senior high school student of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino School under the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) strand.
In an interview, Moledo told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that the Philippines is still lagging in terms of digital education despite the availability of computers and internet connection in the country.
“Sa tingin ko, ang mayroon lang ng (I think, only those who have) technologies like these is the NCR but the other regions lack information technology-based classrooms. In our school, there’s no problem about this. We use computer and tablets,” he said.
DepEd ICT Standards director Abram Abanil said there is still no data which can prove that the country is behind in terms of digital education.
“Currently, wala pa talagang (there’s no really) statistics with regards to digital literacy even internationally but we’re taking steps to improve digital literacy in the Philippines. Under our K to 12 curriculum the computer skills are already embedded, so from Grades 4 to 6, the productivity tools are taught, then basic programming in Grades 7 to 10, then vocational skills in Grades 11 to 12,” he said.
Abanil added that teachers are provided electronic learning resources so they can “move away from using Manila paper and cartolina in their classes”.
Meanwhile, students are given access to e-learning resources and quick results of their quizzes and tests through DepEd’s systems.
“Our systems will specify or recommend the right resources for them to use and overcome their incompetencies and weaknesses in certain subjects,” he added.
Citing the challenges brought about by the country’s geographical makeup, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said there is no general status in terms of digital education nationwide.
“The picture is very mixed. For example, the science high-schools are fairly advanced in the elementary they’re already exposed to digital education. But there are areas where there are no opportunities and connections. We want to level up this condition, whether you are a child in the remote area or a child in Manila, more or less, their ICT skills are comparable,” she added.
In line with this, Briones said DepEd has started with the Last Miles Schools Program which aims to improve the condition of schools in remote places.
“There are schools in the remote areas which are in the state of dilapidation and these are donated buildings not compliant to the current standards. We inventory the number of schools, their exact locations. These schools which are very much lacking in ICT and never heard of the digital rise,” she said.
Apart from regular schools, DepEd Undersecretary for Administrative Service Alain del Pascua said schools providing alternative learning would also benefit from the “digital rise in the Philippine education”.
“Imagine a mobile teacher of alternative learning system (ALS) going to a far-flung community. He carries a bag, a laptop and distributes five to 10 tablets to students and they talk to one another while using the laptop and the router. All the contents and lessons in the laptop are reflected in the tablets and this is being done by DepEd now,” he said.
Pascua added that DepEd has delivered laptops and tablets to Kalayaan Island to aid the ALS teachers.
Industrial revolution, robotics
The students and teachers who attended the expo learned a lot about the fourth industrial revolution, technopreneurship, digital education and excellence, robotics and learning through augmented reality as presented by speakers from various corporations like Oracle, Microsoft, Converge and LinkedIn, among others.
They were also given the chance to experience the use of modern learning gadgets used in most advanced schools worldwide.
One of the presentations the students enjoyed is the integration of humanoid in learning environment.
Curicent Technolgies country director Saju Vincent said they joined the expo to share with Filipino learners their advanced robotics curriculum from preschool to college.
“There is robotics in the Philippine curriculum but it is not at par, but I think, it cannot even compete with other people. For example, in the Robotics Olympiad last year in Manila, Serena of Bangladesh took the gold medal,” he said.
Vincent said they can help Filipino learners acquire skills in robotics which would help them adapt in the future.
“The future is artificial intelligence. Secretary Briones and Ma’am Dino are very supportive. They have formed a committee to investigate how they can integrate our robotics curriculum in the current robotics curriculum in the Philippines. So, we’re hoping for the best,” he added.
Citing that no online education can beat traditional education in instilling good manners and right conduct in learners, Undersecretary for Finance-Budget and Performance Monitoring Annalyn Sevilla appealed to parents to help teachers in guiding their children so they would not forget about empathy, compassion and humanity.
“Soft skills cannot be acquired through an online or technology-driven pedagogy, so it’s important for us to still invest in teachers who will interact with the students. Nawawala ang empathy kapag masyado technology-oriented ang mga bata (Empathy disappears when kids are very much technology-oriented),” she added.
Meanwhile, Moledo said learners like him must be responsible when engaging technology to improve their academic skills.
“We must be hands on when using technology hindi bara-bara lang, dapat ginagamit mo utak mo (not uncommitted, you must also use your brain) at the same time so you can learn new experiences and not just about having fun,” he added. (PNA)