Innovations in educating the youth

Published September 15, 2020, 4:51 PM

by Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal

Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal


Educating the youth now is totally different.  Considering how the number of people infected with SARS-Cov-2 in the Philippines continues to rise, it could be some time till we go back to the normal way of educating the youth.

With people trying to find ways to innovate how to better teach the students, many have turned to technology as their weapon of choice.  But how do you make it have a better impact on the young students?

With about 85,000 students from preschool to senior high school in the city’s public schools, the approach of Makati City seems to be a good path to take.

Mayor Abby Binay of Makati City embarked on a holistic approach to educating the youth.  Their approach does not focus on just providing a tablet to be used by the students, but instead came up with a “Learner’s Package,” which primarily consists  of an On-The-Go (OTG) flash drive, printed modules, five hours of daily Internet access for students and two washable face masks (in case they need to step out of their house for an errand or emergency).

When I heard about it, I immediately asked what’s a “OTG flash drive”?  The OTG flash drive is a gadget that contains digitized learning modules. Through OTG, students can study even without Internet connection. It has videos, illustrations, and interactive exercises developed by DepEd Makati. There are several connections on the drive (lightning, micro-USB, etc.) which allows the student to connect to and use it on  a smartphone (android or ios), tablet, laptop, desktop, as well as on a smart television.  You don’t need a separate gadget, phone, or tablet.  You can use your existing device, which you’re familiar with.

The teachers will upload all the lessons for the week in the OTG, and parents will claim it from the teacher, together with the printed version.  Aside from this, printed modules provided to the students are self-directed instructional modules for all subjects or learning areas which students can answer. These contain important concepts aimed at helping students increase their knowledge and enhance their skills.

What’s impressive is the foresight in anticipating the unavailability of gadgets and connectivity.  If gadgets are unavailable, the student can simply make do with the printed modules. The student will answer all the exercises in the modules and submit them to their teachers through their parents.  With how bad internet connectivity is in the Philippines, especially in the countryside, educators should anticipate potential problems and ensure the continuity of educating the students.  Even if there’s no internet connection, even if there’s no power supply, students can still learn.

There’s also one factor which is key to this program.  It’s highlighting the role of parents in the implementation of the program.  By bringing in the parents and emphasizing their role in the education of their children, their role in their kids’ future is strengthened.  By guiding their kids and assisting them in this new way of learning, they help with instilling the right mindset and discipline which is crucial.

In addition to online modalities, Google Classrooms, Facebook Messenger, and other online apps may also be used for internet-based teaching and follow-up sessions. Students may also ask questions and clarify the lessons with their teachers through Google Meet.  With almost every young person on Facebook and other social media platforms now, this provides an additional method of communicating.

Aside from the modules given to the students, parents will also receive journals containing guidelines on how they can assist their children in their studies.  I hope the parents will take time to study these to further help their children.

The commendable approach of Makati City is a reminder that not everything is about technology.  Not everything can be solved by technology.  Technology is merely a tool you use in order to achieve a goal.  Let me say further that it’s just one tool that you can use.  There are other things to consider.

Even with the latest technology, it’s still the human interaction which is the key to a successful education program. Mentoring and monitoring by the parents of the kids to maximize their learning potential.  In the system being implemented in Makati, there are failsafe measures to ensure the students still are able to learn, even if there is a problem the hardware, software, and connectivity.

Other cities, especially those with less access to the Internet and funds to purchase gadgets, can benefit from the program being implemented in Makati City.

Stay Safe.  Stay Healthy.  Be a light to the youth.