The onset of the pandemic in early 2020 caught many Philippine schools unprepared to deal with its consequences to our approach to learning. While private schools in urban areas had the resources to adopt online learning with the use of computers, cellphones, and the internet, rural schools as well as public schools around the country had to resort to the use of printed modules as a means to continue learning.
SY 2020-2021 was a busy time for the teachers at APC, who had to rush through the development of modules every week so they could be reproduced down in the city, one and a half hours away from Bendum. APC made use of available learning resources, such as printed and digital textbooks, but teachers still needed to do a lot of work on developing exercises and translating learning materials to the mother tongue in the lower grades.
This year, the APC High School shifted to digital learning with the use of cellphones and tablets for students. Digital copies of textbooks and modules are shared with students and they accomplish exercises in their notebooks. Learning apps such as dictionaries and scientific calculators are also installed to serve as study aids. This was made possible through a donation of 20 units of small tablets from Smart Foundation’s School-in-a-Bag program, while other students were able to afford their own personal units.
The shift to digital learning afforded us the following advantages: One, we are able to readily change to better textbooks. This is especially needed for Senior High, as the curriculum is new and the selection of textbooks available in the market is still limited. Digital learning also allows us flexibility in our choice of English resources, as our students are not ready for the mainstream English curriculum and we need to use materials that are more suited to their level and context.
There is, of course, the boon of saving on paper and costs, and doing away with the rush to have the modules completed every week so they could be reproduced down in the city in time for the start of the following week. The digital format also allows us to use more pages as we are no longer constrained by reproduction costs. All these things add up to a much easier time of preparing our learning materials in the high school.
Students are also seeing the ease and advantage of using cellphones and tablets. The only drawback is the tendency to suffer from eye strain from reading small-sized texts on their cellphones for too long. They are reminded to take regular breaks but they are often too impatient to finish accomplishing their exercises in just one go.
The transition to digital learning provides relative ease in navigating education amid the pandemic. And while the realities in the upland context still include several challenges, it is hoped that this transition encourages students to continue learning despite the difficulties.