Splendid blended

Published July 30, 2020, 10:00 PM

by Fil C. Sionil

For Juliana Mahusay, Isabel Konyap Gonzales Longid, Misha Garcia Lirios, and Nathanne Rafaille “Pangga” S. Acosta, conforming to the blended learning mode comes easy. They belong to Gen Z otherwise known as Zoomers, who are adept in digital technology and comfortable with the social media.

These four are lucky since they are among the 23 percent of middle high students – grades 11 and 12 – whose parents can afford to send them to private schools. Others aren’t so fortunate because the lockdown tightened the flow of resources. While some plan to take a momentary break, a significant number has migrated to public schools.

I asked Joel, Juliana’s father, if he is comfortable with the new learning school arrangement. He unequivocally gave his stamp of approval while we all await the availability of the vaccine. “The education sector, undoubtedly, is one of the most shaken by this health pandemic. At this point, I believe that the health and safety of learners and educators must take precedence with COVID cases rising every day a vaccine nowhere in sight.”

The parents of Misha, Pangga, and Isabel are likewise supportive of the blended learning mode to avoid possible contact with schoolmates who may possibly be carriers. Iris, Isabel’s mom, is more outspoken. She will not allow her daughter to physically attend lectures in Miriam even if it’s still January next year. “No vaccine, no physical school attendance.”

Aside from being technologically skilled, Juliana, Pangga, Misha, and Isabel are fortunate simply because the use of computers had already been intertwined in their learning modules even prior to the pandemic.

Juliana goes to Everest Academy, an international Catholic school, where  teachers use multi-media platforms.

Misha is an incoming senior at UST-SHS. On  “Alto Day,” a student would be at home attending class online with teachers and classmates. Pre-COVID, the Alto Day usually follows three days of classroom sessions.  While waiting for the formal classes to begin this school year, Misha has been attending online class for her College Entrance Test Reviews for more than six weeks now.

Pangga, an incoming senior high at Saint Pedro Poveda, a private all-girls Catholic school, is now taking her UPCAT review classes.

Unwittingly, this blended learning mode has perked up consumption. Based on my random research, there has been sharp increase in the purchase of electronic goods – laptops and PCs. The pandemic plus the ECQ that kept most of us in the comfort of our homes also heightened the use of the Internet, not to mention the uptick in new ISP subscribers.

The resurrection of buffering is another collateral effect of the pandemic-lockdown, which I was told is due, among others, to the large number of users. “Momsie, that’s happening in our review class now. Sometimes, we can’t see our teacher or hear her. The Internet is super slow,” complained Pangga.

If this is happening now, what more when school opens next month? Will it be chaotic with all hands on deck? It’s less than a month before the opening and I am jittery if the existing Internet providers have the capacity to service the high usage with so many online, from those work-from-home staff, to online sellers and buyers to school children and students.

This is where that complaint from the President in his SONA speech is coming from. For the IS providers to upgrade their  facilities and services. Let’s wait until December this year, the deadline given them. Talkback to me at [email protected]