FEU Tech creates an inclusive mastery e-learning platform for the unconnected

This university is MILES ahead of other educational institutions

Humanity remains troubled by the Covid-19 crisis. The Philippine government maintains its imposition of the varying degrees of quarantine throughout the country, disrupting our everyday lives. The education sector is among the most affected by the pandemic, having been forced to shut down as a precaution against the further spread of the virus. This results in an unprecedented number of students having to take classes online.

Faced with this challenge, Far Eastern University (FEU) Institute of Technology has announced that it is breaking away from the traditional formula of education with the launch of its digital learning system called MILES, short for Mastery-based Individualized Learning Enhancement System.

The pioneering system is expected to be available in the campuses of FEU Tech, Alabang, and Diliman by next month.

Through the online course management platform Canvas, MILES will create a user-friendly interface to deliver well-designed content geared toward personalized learning. What sets it apart from other remote learning solutions is that MILES takes each and every student’s personal information into account.

“We can’t take for granted that every student has access to a stable Internet connection,” said Rolan “Marco” Garcia, director of innovation and entrepreneurship at FEU Tech. Garcia refers to the fact that despite our country registering as having the heaviest Internet usage in the world, we have abysmally slow Internet speeds.

In 2019, the country’s fixed internet download speed ranked 16th slowest among 87 countries. According to FEU Tech senior executive director Dr. Benson Tan, this reality is what has spurred the university to design an unparalleled solution that keeps even the unconnected in mind. “We certainly don’t want them to be left behind,” Tan explains. “So that is why MILES offer different learning options that cater to students under different situations.”

FEU Tech building, photo by CTHUB

For instance, the “Fully Online” option is designed for students with good, stable online connections, and equipped with the proper computer devices. Distribution of learning activities, materials, faculty consultations, and mentoring would be a hundred percent online and asynchronous.

On the other hand “Blended Online” option is available for students who have minimal internet access. Here, learning materials will come in the form of both printed materials and flash-drives filled with video lectures, learning activities, and other materials. These will be sent via a courier for a nominal fee.

Though it will only be available once the government allows the resumption of physical classes, there’s even a Blended Face-to-Face option, which balances asynchronous learning with on-campus interactions. Classes and lab courses that require personal interaction will fall under this option. All faculty consultations and exams, however, will be online. “This option is best for students who really want elements of the face-to-face environment,” Garcia mentions.

With remote learning looking to be the only viable approach for schools in the foreseeable future, FEU Tech’s MILES program presents a groundbreaking new solution that is inclusive and easy to understand.

Although MILES is the first of its kind, it is not FEU’s first foray into utilizing technology to give students better education. For example, in all of their schools, students are given access to computer labs that take their individual needs into consideration whether they are an IT major, multimedia arts major, and so on. Furthermore, all campuses offer opportunities especially designed to give students a leg up in a rapidly digitizing world, from blended courses that allow students to study both business and Information Tech to certification programs courtesy of tech titans like Cisco and Microsoft. The schools have always aimed to stay inclusive, relevant, and competitive—something they intend to continue even in the face of this global crisis.

FEU Tech’s senior director for administration Jarvis Muyargas and senior director for computer studies Rossana Adao are in agreement that the transition into such a unique solution comes with its own set of challenges on their end. “For one, nobody really expected the pandemic to come about. It’s a complete 180-degree turn, to suddenly live with the realization that classroom learning as we know it may not come back for a while,” says Adao. “There were a lot of meetings and deliberations that had to happen before FEU Tech decided to roll out MILES.”

Muyargas, adds that all the effort will be worth it. “We believe that the ongoing crisis doesn’t have to mean learning and mastery have to stop. With MILES, we can ensure that no student will be left behind,” he concluded.