‘Online class is not a joke’: Flexible learning is a challenge for professors, too

Published May 6, 2021, 4:59 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

With the conduct of face-to-face classes still prohibited amid the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation in the country, teachers – at all levels – are holding classes through alternative delivery modalities.

(Photo from Pixabay)

At the tertiary level, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) instructed both public and private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to implement flexible learning to ensure that education will continue.

Flexible learning, CHED said, is a “learner-centered approach that is deeply-rooted in the needs of the students” which should provide them with “most flexibility” while learning through the use of digital and non-digital tools.

To ensure the safety of students and faculty, most HEIs are holding online classes as among the learning delivery modalities under flexible learning. However, this mode also poses challenges to professors in various private HEIs and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs).

No joke

“Online class is not a joke, it’s actually more difficult,” said Prof. Rene Luis Tadle who teaches at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) under Department of Philosophy during the “THURSDAY HABIT” organized by the Movement for Safe, Equitable, Quality, and Relevant Education (SEQuRe Education Movement) on Thursday, May 6.


Tadle, who also serves as the lead convenor of the Council of Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities of the Philippines (COTESCUP), explained that one of the reasons why handling an online class is challenging is because of the class size.

“We have identified a university that instead of decreasing the number of students because of these online classes, they did the reverse,” Tadle shared.

Instead of having below 50 students per class, Tadle claimed that there are some HEIs that plan to include 60 to 70 students in a class since it is online. “But, this is contrary to what research should tell us,” he said.

Citing various findings and researches, Tadle noted that as much possible, there should be below 20 students per online class. “This is because it’s more challenging and we are also expected to be on call when the students need us,” he added.

Costly but a ‘must’

Asst. Prof. Jonathan Mark Te, the President of the Silliman University Faculty Association, also shared some concerns on the implementation of distance learning in higher education.

Te, who teaches Information and Communications Technology (ICT) at the University, shared that some of the challenges his colleagues – and those in other colleges and schools – are also experiencing under Online Distance Learning (ODL).

“We were given four months to train but not all of our colleagues are not using laptops, they don’t rely on using computers so what were they supposed to do?” Te said in a mix English and Filipino.

So that they will not be left behind or be perceived as “obsolete,” Te said that many teachers were forced to purchase their own laptops. Since many of these teachers are parents too, they also need to buy laptops and other gadgets for their children who also go to school.

“It’s very costly to that effect and we really wanted assistance, in terms of providing a device and internet connection, but had to shoulder the expense,” Te said. “We never got a single centavo when all these online distance learning were imposed on us,” he added.

Screengrab from SEQuRe Education Movement/FB

At the basic education level, teachers and students have also raised concerns on distance learning – how this affects the quality of education and their overall well-being.


SEQuRe Education Movement is a multi-stakeholder education movement composed of teachers, education experts, leading academics, students, parents, and advocates launched in Sept. 2020.

Launched last April, the “THURSDAY HABIT” is a series of roundtable discussions joined by education experts, teachers, and students on various topics in the education sector amid the pandemic.