By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
As the demand for online learning increases, the Department of Education (DepEd) underscored the need for various sectors to work together in providing Internet services and connectivity to teachers who are the education sector’s very own “frontliners” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
DepEd Undersecretary for Administration Alain Pascua said that the “demand for online learning is huge.” Thus, he said it is very important that Internet service providers, telecommunications companies, local government units (LGUs), and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) “work together in the spirit of Bayanihan to provide Internet services and connectivity to teachers who are ready to learn and be capacitated to facilitate learning under these very trying times.”
Pascua issued this statement after the photos of public school teachers seemingly camping out beside a highway in Maco, Davao de Oro to look for signal coverage so they can participate in a DepEd webinar went viral.
DepEd explained that the particular webinar was by far the largest online activity of the department that reached so many participants and viewers. With the scale of the activity, the online tools that were used during the webinar encountered server issues and reached the limit of the number of users accessing their servers simultaneously.
Teachers’ willingness to upskill
While the said photos portrayed DepEd as “heartless and unaware” of public school teachers’ challenges, Pascua said that this should be viewed in another light – highlighting the teachers’ commitment and willingness to improve themselves.
Pascua noted that the very same teachers in the said photos were “thankful for the opportunity to equip themselves with the skills appropriate for the unique challenges” posed by the New Normal.
“Their desire to ‘upskill’ themselves and their excitement over the webinar sessions is testament of their resourcefulness and fortitude despite the lack of mobile coverage in their areas,” Pascua said.
Pascua said that the magnitude of teachers who have shown their interest in learning ICT-based teaching is a “testament of their commitment to learn new ways of teaching that will ensure the safety of our children.”
While classes for School Year (SY) 2020-2021 will formally open on August 24, DepEd has directed teachers to start rendering service starting June 1. To prepare for school opening, Pascua said that DepEd has been spearheading webinars to thousands of participants for free.
Until formal classes start using blended/distance learning approaches, teachers are expected to attend orientation and training activities on the utilization of the distance learning delivery modalities, prepare instructional materials, and plan the organization of classes in consideration of the learning delivery modalities to be employed.