An alternative learning system

Published May 1, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin



Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid
Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid

Most learning systems in our country as well as abroad have been utilizing distance or open learning through TV or Internet for sometime now, primarily as a support  for classroom teaching. But it looks like the post-Covid era would justify a more expanded use ofthis alternative learning mode.  School authorities  mustnow therefore be prepared to conceptualize  this “at-home classroom” learning via Internet, TV-radio, and other multi-media.  Blended mode, this instructional technology is called.

As early as 1961, and for several years during my professional life, I  found myself  engaged  in the use of TV and radio for education, either within the country or in some countries where I was a teacher, researcher,  or consultant.

Among these projects were regular television programs  with the then government’s Philippine Broadcasting System, the Metropolitan Educational Television Association (META) TV  Instruction for Secondary Schools,and Ateneo-Maryknoll ETV project, both projects of which are  based at Ateneo, as well as  consultancies in the design of educational TV in Sri Lanka and a  labor broadcast community station in Cebu.

In an article, “Instruction by Television” that I had written for Philippine Studies (Vol 4, No. 6, 1964), and Leo Larkin’s piece, “Instructional TV in Southeast Asia  (Vol. 14, No. 3, 1966), we described these experimental projects which had lasted for over a decade.

Among the objectives of the project which started in 1962 were to respond to the need for quality instructional materials, and the perceived shortage of experienced teachers. In other words, to multiply the expertise of chosen subject matter specialists.The executive staff was headed byFr. Leo Larkin, S.J, executive director, Josie Patron, research director, this writer, TV coordinator, John Lauengco, chief engineer, Lupita AquinoKashiwahara and Chingay Diaz Lagdameo,  television directors,  managed the overall requirements for research, production and delivery via coaxial cable to Ateneo and Maryknoll campuses,  and through 2 commercial TV stations,30 participating secondary schools and 30,000 public and private students in the Greater Manila Area.

Funding from the Ford Foundation, The Asia Foundation, and brothers, Eugenio and Fernando Lopez, covered salaries of personnel, purchase of equipment and operational costs. The instructional programs in physics had Fr. FrancisGlover of the Manila Observatory, and  (OnofrePagsanghan) for Filipino. The other subject was Social Studies. Training was provided for both subject matter and classroom teachers. Initial evaluation showed that training of classroom teachers had resulted in better prepared lesson plans and teaching effectiveness.  It likewise brought out the limitations of the TV medium, which is why it can never stand alone.  But while the project elicitedconsiderable enthusiasm among teachers and students and representatives of participating schools, decision-makers in government were unable to convince Congress to include alternative learning as a priority legislation.

I did recall thisexperience while a member of the Education Committee in the 1986 Constitutional Commission.  This provision (Art. XIV, Sec. 2 (4) that I crafted was adopted almost unanimously: “Encourage non-formal, informal, and indigenous learning systems, as well as self-learning, independent, and out-of school study programs particularly those that respond to community needs…”

When I think an appropriate model for an alternative broadcast structure  for the country, I  think of the  META structure  as it had  a multisectoral board consisting of major stakeholders in education, among them, the Bureaus of Public and PrivateSchools, the associations of learning institutions, the government TV station, Unesco,as well as funding and support groups, commercial TV stations that provided free airtime and Radiowealth, which contributed free TV sets to some schools. All of us had to help in ensuring that we would be able to meet the costs of production and to produce the kinescopes (16mm. film recording) on time for school opening. I remember how I had to negotiate with the Customs office who wanted to tax the raw film stock by citing provisions on tax exemption for materials used for public education.

Today, I would like to believe that there is enough public support for alternative learning.  Because of earlier research findings (PISA and others), we must ensure that those who design the system have adequate background and training in skills such as information and media literacy, cross-cultural communication, and understanding of the attributes of the medium.  As well as the new learning needs that emerged during  the Covid-19  lockdown,

My e-mail, [email protected]