‘Hybrid is the next normal’: DepEd, partners launch virtual labs for SHS students

Published June 30, 2022, 12:13 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

Recognizing the need to provide more accessible technology to students, teachers, and personnel, the Department of Education (DepEd) has led the launch of the DepEd Computerization Program (DCP) Virtual Labs.

(Photo courtesy of DepEd)

Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones said that DepEd has always been open to technology advancements and digitalization. “We aim to contribute and advance digital reform in the education sector,” she added.

DepEd, through the Information and Communications Technology Service (ICTS), has partnered with Microsoft Philippines and CloudSwyft Global Systems, Inc. for the DCP Virtual Labs.

The virtual labs technology, DepEd said, allows Senior High School (SHS) to deliver a broad range of advanced software applications with very high speed and performance on their own devices such as laptops, tablets, or mobile devices – anytime, anywhere.

Regardless of the cost of the device being used, the virtual labs technology makes it very easy for the SHS to set up and manage and for the students to have access to and experience an engaging learning environment.

Microsoft Philippines Public Sector Director Joanna Velez Rodriguez underscored the importance of utilizing technology especially for learning continuity. “As we continue to face the realities of this ongoing pandemic, much has changed, and we have plenty to be optimistic about as we all move forward towards rebuilding our way of life,” she said.

“Hybrid is the next normal for all Filipinos. Technology adoption across industries needs to be scaled and accelerated to support the nation’s workers and students,” she added.

Microsoft together with CloudSwyft created over 4,200 virtual labs for DepEd SHS students, teachers, and office employees.

The tech companies launched these initial virtual labs across the DepEd pilot schools, including DepEd Bagong Silang High School, Las Piñas City National Science High School, and Las Piñas City National High School.

CloudSwyft, the global leader in virtual lab solutions for the education sector, partnered with Microsoft to deploy the solution, powered by industry-leading cloud infrastructure, Microsoft Azure, to ensure agility, security, and scalability.

“While we are a global company and work to provide our proprietary virtual labs solution at scale to leading education customers and governments across all major continents, we are proudly based in the Philippines and privileged to serve our fellow Filipinos and to contribute to a more equal and advanced learning environment for all SHS students,” said CloudSwyft Chief Executive Officer Dann Angelo De Guzman.

DepEd noted that the solution provided flexibility to users to access their learning environment from anywhere.

It also ensures that all students were given equal opportunity to develop 21st-century digital skills and were not left at a disadvantage due to lack of access to modern laptop computers.

Through the virtual labs, teachers, learners, and DepEd personnel can now freely access software applications such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere Pro, IBIS Paint, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Animate, Adobe InDesign, Arduino, FILMORA, SketchUp, GEOMATH, Microsoft Office 365 applications, Audacity, TINKERCAD and more from their laptops, tablets or other mobile devices.

Information and Communications Technology Service (ICTS) Director Abram Abanil explained that the virtual labs will allow the use of heavy-graphics applications such as; Adobe creative applications or Autodesk software tools used by the learners for class activities and outputs.

Teachers, on the other hand, can also utilize these applications in the development of online education materials to support the different learning modalities of the DepEd.

Meanwhile, Undersecretary for Administration Alain Del Pascua noted that DepEd’s partnership with Microsoft has brought so many projects such as driving digital literacy, skilling, enhancing accessibility to technology, and much more that learners and teachers can utilize to advance digital education in the country.

“We are grateful for this partnership and the opportunity to work with CloudSwyft, and we hope to launch more projects soon,” he added.