Many schools are now shifting into online learning due to the unprecedented outbreak caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in the implementation of various forms of community quarantine in the Philippines. Our country is placed with the longest quarantine period in the world compared to other countries, even the place where the virus was first originated, Wuhan, China.
With the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, parents are understandably very hesitant and concerned about letting their children go to school this coming school year. Likewise, schools are exercising great caution as they plan to resume classes.
Following the official DepEd guidelines
The Department of Education (DepEd) commits to ensure educational continuity amidst the challenges. DepEd order no. 007 series of 2020, #8 sections a and b, states that;
8. Private schools and state/local universities and colleges (SUCs/LUCs) offering basic education will be allowed to open classes within the period authorized by RA 7797, which is on the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August, Provided:
a) No face-to-face classes will be allowed earlier than August 24, 2020, and from then on, face-to-face classes may be conducted only in areas allowed to open physically.
b) They submit in advance the following documents to the DepEd Regional Offices (ROs) for review and monitoring purposes:
i. Their school’s plan for compliance with minimum health standards that will be issued by DepEd, consistent with guidelines of the DOH, the IATF, and the OP;
ii. Their school’s Learning Continuity Plan showing alternative delivery modes of learning when face-to-face learning is not allowed, which shall constitute compliance with the requirement provided under Item 6 of Annex 3, DepEd Order No. 021, s. 2019; and
iii. Their school’s SY 2020-2021 School Calendar.
At Nephila Web, we adhere to our commitment to provide solutions to companies and educational institutions. In response to the DepEd order for alternative delivery modes for school’s learning continuity plan, we have provided below some practical tips for schools on how to put up their own distance learning education.
Tip #1: A proper mindset
Now that schools are forced into lockdown due the COVID-19 pandemic, school admins: You need not to panic.
Distance learning may seem daunting. Or you may believe that it is less effective than the bricks-and-mortar you are used to do in traditional schooling setting. The reality is that distance learning, online learning, elearning, virtual learning are terms related to a broad range of approaches.
Be encouraged to try, feel comfortable to use! Let go of the thoughts or defenses that you have in mind, and work on cultivating a mindset that provides your students’ needs for learning. We never know when the pandemic will stop, but the pandemic should not stop our students from learning.
Transitioning to distance learning model will take some time and planning. You may also consider your budget as there will be startup costs. You should hold a meeting with your school administrators for some major decisions to make.
Tip #2. Make a plan and get started early
I cannot overstate how important and critical thinking ahead is. Without proper planning, the implementation may lead to chaos and failure. Once you have a clear and solid plan, start at the soonest. Key factors or questions that you may need to consider during the planning stage are:
- Which platform will you use?
- Where will this platform be hosted?
- What is the capacity required for your institution in number of concurrent users who will use the system? These are the users who will use the platform at the same time. The higher the number of users, the higher the resources needed to allocate.
- Timeline for course development, content migration and testing.
- The training needs of your faculty members for course development and your site administrator.
Tip #3. Test and choose the best technology to suits your needs
After proper planning, choosing the best technology that suits your goals is critical to ensure that your implementation will succeed.
Online or distance learning does not need to be very expensive. Free and open-source software is able meet your requirements, even will exceed your expectations. One is Moodle, the most widely used Open Source Learning Management System, which recently surpassed the 200 million users milestone.
Similarly, Big Blue Button (BBB) is a low-cost but highly effective and secure video conferencing platform that can be used to host a real-time online classroom.
And if you are looking for a tool for creating interactive content, H5P might be the best platform for you. One thing good about these solutions, it all works together synchronously through integration. Choosing an open-source solution frees your organization from paying high license fees, and the assurance that the ownership of the content materials you will be developing is 100% yours, and will not be taken away if you subscribed from proprietary platforms.
Though these solutions have a steep learning curve, you may choose to do it yourself since it is open-source. You can download it for free, or you may consider getting a solutions partner whose expertise is to set up the whole platform for you, provide consultancy and support you while you focus on doing your own thing like developing course materials online.
Tip #4. Empower your educators
In this stage, after coming up with a concrete plan and having already chosen the technology that best suits your needs. The best strategy to succeed on your implementation is to empower your educators by providing them with proper training so that they will have the freedom of creating their own instructions online. On the training, they will be guided on how to design their courses, upload their content materials, create assessments, manage their own courses and their students.
Tip #5. Determine your policies and procedures
Distance Learning is different from a traditional learning. If you are implementing distance learning for the first time, it is like testing the waters. You may have initial policies and procedures but you should be agile enough of imposing new things. Those who are experienced in online learning keep on improving their policies and procedures.
Some policy factors that you may need to consider are:
- How will students register on your elearning platform?
- How users will access your elearning platform?
- How do you provide or create user credentials? Will there be online registration needed?
- Who will oversee things as site administrator?
- Who will provide support? Should you establish an online helpdesk for the support?
- How will you structure your courses and assign it to your teachers?
- Will you implement a standard instructional design for your teachers? Or they can do their own instructional design?
Tip #6. Sustain and Maintain
When you have the right technology, the right solutions partner and empowered educators, all you need to think of is the sustainability of your project and maintain its smooth implementation.
I am very happy to provide you these tips. Our advice is the result of our day-to-day experiences with helping schools and organizations on how to put up their own distance learning.
I hope you can start soon and if you need our help, We are just an email away.
Our commitment to support educational institutions
You may be interested on our FREE LMS HOSTING FOR 3 MONTHS. Please find the details here.
If you are looking for a comprehensive introduction to elearning, we invite you to sign up for our guided training for teachers, which you can find course outline here. Our fully online training runs for eight (8) weeks, with live weekly sessions and hands-on design challenges.