Classes for basic formal education nationwide–for more than 8.5 million enrollees—begin on Monday, with the challenges in blended learning up in many public and private classrooms from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi.
Blended learning, an approach to education that combines online educational materials and opportunities for interaction online with traditional place-based classroom methods, requires the physical presence of both teacher and student, with some elements of student control over time, place, path, or place.
A week before the opening of classes, National Economic Development Authority director general Karl Kendrick Chua projected during a Senate hearing the limit to students’ learning ability due to the lack of face-to-face classes for a year will result in an P11-trillion loss in productivity over the next 40 years.
During the Senate hearing on the proposed P5.024-trillion budget for 2022, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian asked the economic managers if data were already available on the losses incurred due to the one-year closure of educational institutions.
Chua said the lack of face-to-face classes would have a permanent effect on the student’s abilities, especially when the students are already working.
“What we are seeing is, the lack of face-to-face classes will limit the learning ability of students and that has a permanent effect over the lifespan of the student while he is in the labor force,” Chua said.
“With the best data that we have, we estimate productivity loss, for the next 40 years, is going to be P11 trillion for the one year when we had no face-to-face schooling,” Chua said.
But are we really ready yet?
For a total 209 school days in adherence to Republic Act No. 7797, classes will open on September 13 and end on June 24, 2022 – with Christmas break from December 20 to January 3, 2022. DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones has hoped for the department’s stakeholders’ “continued cooperation and support as we prepare for another challenging yet worthwhile endeavor of educating our children amid a global health crisis.”
The department said face-to-face classes, whether partial or full-scale, are still not allowed “unless permitted by the President.”
Predictably, there are some significant challenges to blended learning models, which our teachers and students, and necessarily parents, will face, which include the expense of technology, inadequate training, technological issues, the need to adapt content for blended learning, decreased motivation, and weakened relationships between students and teachers.
Unless successfully planned and executed, blended learning could have disadvantages in technical aspects since it has a strong dependence on the technical resources or tools with which the blended learning experience is delivered.
Obviously, there are major challenges the students will meet: self-studying, poor internet connection, lack of sleep and time to answer all the modules due to the great number of activities, distractions, and lack of focus.
Beyond doubt there are strengths and weaknesses of blended learning, which depends on concretization, coordination, collaboration and communication across the classrooms, the reason why it is not so easy to do.
And September 13 is breathing now along the school corridors.