imyeyes-banner-sqIn My EyesBy Edward B. Antonio

Modular learning’s initial take-off

Teacher Michelle and her partner English teacher Sir Dav struggle to print their subject modules for the 346 students they teach in English – Grade 8. The school’s risograph machine just run out of ink and the supplier has yet to deliver the much-needed ink packs next week. Luckily, the school has provided them with coupon bonds and ink for the department’s printer.

But then, there are 8 teachers in the department with the same problem. So, Teacher Michelle and Sir Dav have to use their own printers.

This was one of the initial problems that occurred after a month in this modular distant learning mode, fellas.

“I know things like this may occur in this ‘new normal,’ but we are ready for that,” Sir Mav said.

The more pressing things to do, but not necessarily a big problem he said, is the sorting of modules by subject and placing them inside the learners’ envelopes one by one, sorting them again by barangays and delivery by the SKs assigned by the municipal government.

“When they are retrieved, it’s back to sorting anew by subject and giving them to the subject teachers. After that, it’s checking time. We have to do the checking ourselves because we don’t have students to check their own papers. At home, we cannot compel our housemates to help us check because they have their own kids or we have our own kids to guide in answering their modules,” he said.

Modular learning is a form of distance learning that uses Self-Learning Modules (SLM) called SLKs (Self-Learning Kits) and ADM (Alternative Delivery Mode) kits based on the most essential learning competencies (MELCS) provided by DepEd. The modules include sections on motivation and assessment that serve as a complete guide of both teachers’ and students’ desired competencies. Teachers will monitor the learners’ progress through home visits (following social distancing protocols) and feedback mechanisms, and guide those who need special attention.

Modules are provided for each student for each of the 8 core subjects: English, Mathematics, Filipino, Science, Araling Panlipunan, Technology and Livelihood Education or TLE (for high school); Edukasyong Pangkabuhayan at Pangtahanan (for elementary); Music, Arts, Physical Education, and Health (MAPEH) and Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao (ESP). Only Grades 1 and 2 have a Mother Tongue subject.

Here’s the breakdown in the distant learning delivery, fellas.

Based on data gathered via DepEd’s National Learner Enrolment and Survey Forms (LESFs), 8.8 million out of the 22.2 million enrollees (39.6% of total respondents) preferred modular distance learning for the upcoming school year. Meanwhile, 3.9 million enrollees (17.6%) were partial to blended learning (which uses a combination of different modalities), 3.8 million (17.1%) preferred online learning, and 1.4 million and 900,000 enrollees preferred TV-based and radio-based learning, respectively.

Roughly, there are supposed to be 4 modules a month (1 per week) for distribution and retrieval. The grading system is pegged at either 60%-40% (performance task-written works) while other subjects have it 50%-50%.

Prior to school opening last October 5, some 22.3 million public school students have signed up for the school opening on October 5, while 2.1 million students in private schools have enrolled. This figure increased as enrollment extended until the end of October.

Education Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio said that almost 13 million public school students or 59% of roughly 22 million enrollees this year will be using printed modules. That would require felling an enormous number of trees to produce paper.

Even Secretary Leonor Briones admitted that the bulk of modules to be produced would be detrimental to the environment. To give you an idea, Senator Ralph Recto, an economist, estimated that 93.6 billion pages of learning modules for millions of public school students will be needed just for one full academic year.

In a virtual press briefing, Education Undersecretary Anne Sevilla said that students might have to share modules by next year because there aren’t enough funds to reproduce learning materials.

Is module learning as effective as the face-to-face (F2F) modality?

A University of Northern Philippines professor interviewed over the radio said it’s not as effective as the F2F modality.

“If learning is around 90-100% effective in F2F, we expect only around 60% or less effectiveness in distant learning,” he said.

“If 50% learning is achieved, that is already good,” said a researcher.

Students’ learning progress will be assessed through summative exercises and performance tasks. DepEd said schools will not be holding periodical examinations for this school year to prevent “distance cheating.”

While DepEd acknowledges the importance of periodical tests in assessing students’ understanding of the lessons, Education Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio said that the pandemic compelled them to be “more creative and flexible in implementing summative assessment schemes without sacrificing assessment’s credibility.”

This situation could promote “distance cheating” among students who may submit some homework that were actually accomplished by someone else. The DepEd, however, is appealing to parents and guardians to teach honesty to the children, especially now that they have the opportunity to closely supervise the students.

But parents and guardians point out that students are pressured to meet weekly deadlines to submit their self-learning modules for their teachers’ evaluation, hence the need for parents “to do it” especially for their elementary school children.

Another feedback is that there was also the problem of logging in to DepEd Commons, the online platform containing lessons that are accessible to parents, students and teachers. In one instance, they had to wait 12 hours just to finish a quiz after the website reached full capacity, a parent said.

“I am sure that students will be able to adapt [to the new learning modalities], but I don’t think they will be able to properly absorb the lessons. Even as students struggle to understand the contents of the modules, some parents also do not have the capacity to teach their children,” another parent said.

It is not only the way subjects are taught remotely, but the content as well that could also be a problem especially so if both parents and the guardians are not educationally capable.

But even college graduate parents have this to say:

“As a college graduate, even I could not understand the questions in the modules and I don’t think the questions are answerable by young students. If we can’t understand the question, how much more to the students?” he said

And after Supertyphoon Rolly destroyed thousands of homes and school buildings, what’s up for our school children and school officials greatly affected by the calamity, fellas? According to the DepEd, a total of 226 schools were damaged while 869 schools have been used as evacuation centers for families displaced by Rolly.

In a press briefing, Education Secretary Leonor Briones gave assurances that the production of self-learning modules (SLMs) will not be affected though some schools were damaged due to the onslaught of Super Typhoon Rolly (Goni).

“I don’t think it will affect our module production since we already produced the learning modules for the 1st quarter,” Briones said.

At the same time, Briones also advised schools to solve on their own the problem of damaged learning modules caused by Super Typhoon Rolly.

“Halimbawa, nabasa ang module, siguro hindi naman susulat ang [schools] superintendent na, ‘basa ang module namin.’ Maghanap sila ng paraan. Siguro ibibilad nila, ‘yung iba pinaplantsa. Hindi na sila uutusan ng circular galing sa central office para sabihin kung ano ang gagawin,” Briones said.

Briones added that this is the agency’s way of encouraging schools to take initiative in solving problems like this, instead of waiting for marching orders from the DepEd Central Office.

“Ngayon, ine-encourage natin ang initiative ng mga schools para maghanap sila, [at] magdevelop sila ng solusyon sa mga challenges,” she said. (Now, we encourage initiative from schools to look for ways, and develop solutions for challenges.)

Briones also said that the production of SLMs for the 2nd quarter will not be a problem for schools anymore as the Department of Education (DepEd) has assigned a unit in charge of printing. She reiterated that the agency is “trying to reduce dependency on printed modules” because of the negative impact on the environment.

“We’re moving to other ways of transmitting learning without using up and killing all our trees,” she said.

 How about the module errors?

News circulated that two months after a lesson with a grammatical error was aired on its TV channels, the DepEd admitted a mistake in one of its Mathematics 9 lessons. In a statement, Undersecretary Alain Pascua said DepEd TV Episode 56 carried a solution error in a math equation 2x = 0, in which “0” was used as the divisor to get the value of “x” instead of “2.”The error was first pointed out by someone from Batangas province and it went viral.

“This portion slipped past QA (quality assurance) … We will be correcting this video episode once it is uploaded on DepEd Commons,” said Pascua.

In August, a communication skills trainer noticed a grammatical error in one of the DepEd’s English TV lessons, which read: “Tagaytay City is known for wonderful picturesque of the majestic Mount Taal.”

Teachers and parents were disturbed by the errors and worried that some students might not have any guardians around while the lessons were being aired and no one would be available to correct these.

To all these problems and challenges, what do Teacher Michelle and Sir Dav say?

“Kakayanin,” they chorused. “This is our noble job and we will stand by the DepEd no matter what it takes.”

This is modular learning-teaching after a month, fellas. We expect these scenarios in the coming months until the end of the school year by June 2021.

Kudos, then, to teachers like Ma’am Michelle and Sir Dav.

You are indeed modern-day heroes.

Kakayanin, sir/ma’am! ●