With the global pandemic putting everyone’s health and lives on the line, the Department of Education (DepEd) was faced with the dilemma of upholding its role in delivering quality education for every Filipino while protecting them from the current deadly virus.
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As a response, the Department of Education launched the DepEd Commons. According to DepEd’s, it is an online platform for public school teachers to support distance learning modalities. It was designed as a direct solution to give access to online review materials and Open Educational Resources (OERs) during class suspensions and other similar circumstances.
Indeed, this initiative is a practical solution for continued learning in a time where face-to-face learning is nearly impossible because of community quarantines and social distancing policies.
Though there’s no doubt the Department of Education (DepEd) has all the good intentions in implementing this initiative, we should also plow a bit deeper about the implications of this web-based learning.
Since DepEd Commons bridges teachers and students through online, it requires both parties to have the necessary equipment to take advantage of this new learning scheme.
Teachers and students should have either a laptop, desktop computer, tablet PC, or a tablet to utilize DepEd’s platform. And most importantly, both parties must have a stable internet connection.
And with these requirements, the question of affordability comes into the scene.
When most public school students are struggling with their daily allowances (even before the COVID-19 Crisis), and with their parents also struggling to pay the bills due to the effects of the pandemic, how can they afford the necessary equipment to utilize DepEd’s new learning initiative?
DepEd Online Learning Minimum Specification for ICT Equipment
The Department of Education (DepEd) has released a list of minimum requirements for a number of equipment to be used by students for its distance learning initiative.
With their varying requirements for each equipment, we would like to take a closer look at its specific requirements on the laptop/PC category.
Indeed, DepEd is right on track with its implemented minimum requirements for the laptop/desktop category because these would ensure that students can consume quality content with ease, thus, achieving learning even in a remote manner.
But again, the question of affordability is too hard to ignore in this one.
It is not enough that public school teachers have the means to abide by the technical requirements of DepEd, we should also take a look at the people on the other end of the line — which is their students.
Taking Advantage of the ‘More’ Available Equipment
Again, the requirements implemented by DepEd on their desktop/laptop category is truly sufficient in ensuring a smooth transfer and consumption of learning. Still, it appears that it is too costly for the majority of public school students.
But this specific limitation should not hamper public school students from learning in a remote situation.
Instead, DepEd should take a closer look at one gadget/equipment, that without a doubt, is more accessible with public school students than pricey desktop or laptops: Their smartphones.
Smartphones currently used by students may not have the powerful computing power of desktops and laptops that DepEd requires, but since it is currently the most accessible web-based device for most public school students, the Department should use it as leverage.
Since it is next to impossible to expect and strictly require each and every public school student to purchase desktops, the next best step is for the Department of Education to optimize their current learning content to cater to smartphone users.
Making this one more adjustment will enable the Department of Education to maintain the flow of learning even with current changes in the learning environment.
Yes, even with the high usage of smartphones among public school students, it doesn’t mean that all of them have access or can afford such a device, but by leaning on this device, DepEd can reach out (more) students on their initiative in making web-based learning as widely available as possible.
By Making Adjustments, DepEd Would Help Students, Teachers and Parents Even Better
DepEd took not only a timely but very responsible step of initiating web-based teaching and learning for teachers and students.
Recognizing the rising challenges around the globe and its inevitable implications on the students’ learning, the Department of Education fast-tracked but consciously implemented its guidelines on web-based learnings.
But it appears that this initiative may not reach as many students as possible because of the question of affordability, which would surely limit the Department’s desire to provide seamless learning in a remote situation.
With this one remaining hurdle, the Department of Education (DepEd) must make another necessary adjustment again by adapting to the current equipment capacities of the students and optimize their learning resources for such devices.
This adjustment would not bring added burdens on students and parents whose primary concern is the added costs of DepEd’s requirements for its web-based learning.
Also, it would ease teachers’ concerns on how they can seamlessly reach their students who cannot immediately afford the equipment that DepEd requires.
Ehnle, K. (2020, January 23). 6 ways to use students’ smartphones for learning. Retrieved June 15, 2020, from https://www.iste.org/explore/toolbox/6-ways-use-students-smartphones-learning
Liu, X., Burroughs, N., Tian, Q., & Harvey, V. (n.d.). The Impact of Smartphone Educational Use on Student Connectedness and Out-of-Class Involvement. Retrieved June 15, 2020, from http://www.cios.org/EJCPUBLIC/026/3/026345.html
Vázquez-Cano, Esteban. (2014). Mobile Distance Learning with Smartphones and Apps in Higher Education. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice. 14. 10.12738/estp.2014.4.2012, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/270689151_Mobile_Distance_Learning_with_Smartphones_and_Apps_in_Higher_Education.