Traditional face-to-face learning may no longer be applicable at the higher education level as the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) adopts a policy to implement Flexible Learning in the coming school years.
“From now on, Flexible Learning will be the norm. There is no going back to the traditional, full-packed face-to-face classrooms,” CHED Chairman J. Prospero De Vera III said during a webinar entitled “Educating our Children in the New Normal” on Friday, May 21.
During the webinar organized by the Center for Strategy, Enterprise, and Intelligence, De Vera explained that CHED has adopted a policy that Flexible Learning will “continue in school year 2021 and thereafter” and cited several reasons for such a move.
“If we go back to the traditional face-to-face classroom, we run the risk of exposing our stakeholders to the same risks if another pandemic comes in,” he explained.
More importantly, De Vera noted that “if we go back to the traditional face-to-face, we would have wasted all the investments in technology, in teacher training, in the retrofitting of our facilities.”
De Vera also explained that the “old paradigm of face-to-face versus online will now disappear.” What will happen, he added, is a “flexible system where universities will mix-and-match flexible learning methods appropriate to their situation.”
For the more prepared universities, De Vera said that they will continue investing and moving ahead using online platforms.
“Others, will be allowing some of their students to come at specific periods and do more synchronous versus asynchronous learning,” he explained.
What else to expect?
Aside from the implementation of Flexible Learning, De Vera said that teachers are also expected to realize that the “old norms are gone and they must adjust to new standards.” This, he added, requires “an openness to engage and spend time with students and use of new technology that we make conversations better and deeper.”
Teachers, De Vera said, must also regularly modify their syllabus and adapt new methodologies.
“We will see a transition from the exam-based system that depends on knowledge creation to group work and project or task-based systems – particularly in determining how to grade our students,” he added.
Moreover, he noted that “textbooks will no longer be the sole source of knowledge.”
Moving forward in the new normal
As the country transitions into the “new normal” brought by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, De Vera said that changes are also expected in higher education.
“First, we realize that the digital divide exacerbates difficulties in adjusting to flexible learning,” De Vera said.
Despite this, he noted that “we are seeing in the experience of higher education institutions that innovation and adjustments are emerging – meaning, both students and faculty members are able to adjust to flexible learning better now than before.”
Another change, he said, is that the academe “must now realize that it must be more participative” – especially in “adjusting and exploring creative methods of teaching.”
He explained that for the part of faculty members, they must “realize that the first problem of adjusting to doing online now requires them to rethink the way they handle classes, the way they give assignments, and the way they determine how the class is managed.”
De Vera said that in order to educate children in the so-called “new normal,” there is a need to rethink strategies and an “openness on the part of faculty members and administrators to be flexible in the way they go about managing the educational system.”