Leonardo A. Riingen, MBA
Education In The New Normal
Hi, good morning to everyone. Thank you to all the audience right now. I think it’s a whole morning and I know it’s kind of difficult to be in Zoom for a long time but please indulge me and I hope I can share with you my insights on education after I prepared just a few slides, let’s give it 15 minutes so I hope I can compress it. I think Ma’am Yoli and my tukayo Dr. Leo were able to provide you with their insights. I think Ma’am Yoli talked about technologies in Globe which I’m going to touch on probably briefly here. And of course one of the most important parts of the equation would be the people side. And today I’m going to share with you my experience as an educator. I’m basically an entrepreneur and natisod lang ako sa education when Informatics Singapore wanted a partner here in the Philippines. That was way back in 1994 when IT literacy was just around 7%. So I was convinced that the way to go is really to IT and I’d like to help also the Philippines to achieve a higher literacy rate. And I’m happy to say that I think together all the technology companies and of course the Pinoy’s propensity to do social media, our IT literacy rate in the Philippines has gone double digit now, probably even reaching more than 70 percent. So with that let me share with you my screen. Now I’ll talk about education in the new normal. Well as what Ma’am Nanette said, I was a graduate of the UST High and at this point I’d like to thank Ma’am Nanette, she was my English teacher. I hope I do justice to your teaching Ma’am Nanette. Well this is actually the dreaded day, last year. Because when we got to know that the government locked down the country, that was March 16, it would have a big impact on education and specifically not only on our food business, because we also own a couple of restaurants, but basically our education business, in this case Informatics. And on April 22, 2020 we saw this cover of Philippine Star, it says that instead of around June, it would be August for schools and there would be no face to face. So that was kind of difficult for us because we don’t know whether this Covid pandemic would extend. And there were there were three options that we were deciding. First is just to wait it out, we’re hoping at the time that I think everyone hope that the lock down will just be for a month or two months. The second option is to close because I’ve seen a lot of schools deciding to close because there were no enrollments. And the third one is really to, which a bit difficult, is to act and adapt. So the great dilemma for everyone is do we prioritize health or do we prioritize education. I think this is the dilemma also parents and also the government. And true enough until now and until this year, a lot of thinking are going into education whether to open or not open face to face. That’s a great dilemma. Now I’m going to share with you my experience as an educator hoping that I can share with you some of the insights that went. Obviously, we took the third option which is to act and adapt. We have nine colleges and all these nine colleges are empty, and they’re all over the country. We’re paying rent, we’re paying lecturers, so the cost of course would be very staggering with zero revenues considering that there’s a big question mark whether students would enroll in an online platform. But nonetheless, I always believe in technology, and I think it’s about time, during the time of course last year, education is not actually online. I think people actually hated online learning. It’s only last year that parents were forced actually to adapt to online mode. Otherwise the kids won’t be able to learn. So I found it as an opportunity actually to revolutionize education and the only way to do that is actually to help the country by coming up with solutions. And in this case it’s really EdTech. I think a decade ago, we were revolutionized with e-banking. I remember before there was a struggle whether to bank face-to-face, meaning with the teller or go ATM, and later on mobile banking. And when I looked at it, that was after the natural trend. Technology is here and industries would be adopting technology. Same thing with commerce, we now have e-commerce, and before nobody had ever thought of doing groceries online. But the pandemic forced them actually to order online and even get food deliveries online. So maybe education can now catch up. In fact I was kidding that kung sino pa yung may “E”, like education, yun pa yung hindi electronic. So now is the right time actually to capitalize on and look at this pandemic as an opportunity to revolutionize and to change and put innovation into education. EdTech is actually the process of integrating technology. It’s basically not replacing teachers, which I think a lot of us fear as educators, but still to build better experiences in teaching and learning, and hoping that the outcomes will be much better. There are a lot of EdTech available, and if you notice I think a lot of schools including UST adopted already these technologies.
I’m going to just to share with you our experience with some of this EdTech I’m gonna talk about a few bits about e-learning, LMS, VAL, learning analytics, gamification, social media. I won’t touch on the right side, it which would require another session. Now I also want to note, Ma’am Yoli talked about STEM a while ago. Actually, one of the technologies are available right now is the incorporation of Art into STEM and it’s now called STEAM. And the reason for this is really putting creativity into science, technology and even engineering. Let me talk about e-learning. Obviously e-learning is not actually online learning because a lot of people say kapag e-learning, online. It’s basically education or content being delivered electronically. If for example you were given a USB with some materials in it, given to you, plug it on, it’s called e-learning na rin. But of course in the broad sense of e-learning, this would pertain to online activities and if you would notice e-learning is going towards interactive learning, hindi lang yung nagbabasa ka, hindi lang yung nanonood ka. But there are a lot of e-learning technologies that would allow the student to participate electronically, and a good example of that would be simulators. I think we hear about simulators. And if you want to learn how to fly, and of course if you get to fly a plane you would crash it, so there are flight simulators. And amazingly even driving, in fact a lot of kids right now learn driving through games. So it’s actually e-learning. The nice thing about e-learning is that you actually learn quickly and easily. And the beauty of it, because of connectivity, because of internet, you learn anywhere, anytime, and as they say anyhow. So a lot of stuff were already incorporated in e-learning including podcasts, videos, and these are actually in multi modes ready. And one of the things I’d like to share with you would be two modes being used right now. Natutuwa ako because parents are now talking about synchronous or asynchronous learning. And basically synchronous would be still teachers, students talking to each other, and you have technologies to do that; Zoom, MS Steams and Google Meet. Unfortunately, I’ve observed that a lot of schools said we’re doing e-learning and when I looked at how they do it, it’s basically synchronous. They ask students to log on, listen to the teacher in a practical way, replacing the classroom with a Zoom meeting or MS Teams. This is just one part of e-learning. I think the reason why parents are having this bad image of online learning is because e-learning was not executed properly. The other mode of e-learning is actually the asynchronous mode which is recorded learning and these are learning content that were utterly developed by educators and delivered online without the need for face-to-face. Now I’ll skip this and probably you can just read the slides. I think at this point everyone in the audience would say e-learning is good. Well yes, in the strictest sense of the word. E-learning is very engaging, it’s interactive, it’s cost efficient, because it’s easier actually to deploy learning to a hundred thousand students, its flexible and also the capacity. By the way, the nice thing about e-learning is that even if your student is an OFW or student would be in other islands of the archipelago, you can still deliver the same learning, the same modality, even if the teacher is actually not in the same location as the student. The last one is scalability and accessibility. So scalability, meaning you can have several schools all over without actually building infrastructure. And lastly accessibility; accessibility meaning if you have internet connection, you have a mobile phone, you have a tablet, you can actually learn.
Now, Informatics actually partnered with Skillsoft and we developed this ION or we call Informatics Online. Skillsoft one of the US biggest online content provider, it’s so big that it has actually 25,000 courses. And if you notice, it can range from simple communication courseware to blockchain, to disruptive technologies, to android development. Amazon Web Services, we partnered with them and they provided us the content and all of these are available to our students right now and for a fraction of the cost of taking individual courses. So Informatics partnered with Skillsoft and we’re now delivering our online learning in partnership with them. The other thing that we did is to offer this as well to the LG (local government) use and even the government. Informatics and Skillsoft offer this to Taguig and I think we have people from the Taguig and I think the people would know this TECTOC program initiated by the mayor. The objective is really to get the unemployed and the underemployed go into online learning rather than watch the Korean telenovelas and Netflix, and this is a good way actually to spend the quarantine. So right now we have trained around 25,000 Taguigeños. And one of the nice things that happened here is that we were able to spot actually learners who are so active in e-learning because we offer them practically around 4,000 courses online. And there’s this guy in Taguig, who is actually a senior citizen already, who took 800 courses in the span of six months. And there’s another, story there’s this government employee who actually was applying for a job in DOLE, and instead of getting a supervisory position, she got a director position simply because she has six badges or six certifications that she secured from this program, this TECTOC program of Taguig. And again, all of these were made available through Informatics and Skillsoft. The other one, which I’m also proud of, and we did this also with Secretary Ramon Lopez, will be the DTI PET Project. The objective of this is to redevelop digital natives for digital companies. [I think I saw that Secretary Lopez was a speaker in a talk with UST]. And a lot of online companies like Lazada, like Shopee, are actually looking for digital programmers, for people who are very well versed in e-commerce. And DTI partnered with us to offer those digital skills, and right now ten thousand students applied, one thousand students are into the program already, and we have graduated most of them in the program.
Now let’s talk about LMS (Learning Management System). I think the LMS is something which schools really wanted. An LMS of a school provides the platform that handles all aspects of the learning process. So it’s where the content is. There are a lot of LMS providers out there: Brightspace, Canvas, Moodle, Blackboard, and I think UST is using Blackboard right now. Informatics decided to go for Brightspace. But just to illustrate to you, there’s a lot of technologies available. The problem is each of those technologies does not talk to each other. So what the LMS does is actually to unify everything, whether you’re using Google Forms, Google Drive, still doing one of the boards, the LMS actually simplifies and automates all these virtual solutions in simple and virtual manner. I’ll show you this video about an LMS [Video being shown/played]. And the reason why we wanted Brightspace is because it’s used by most of the big universities in the US, even New York Department of Education, West Virginia Department of Education, Singapore Management University, uses it. We’re happy with it because it’s so simple to use. It’s not actually a technology company with education solutions, but actually an education company that use technology to aid teaching and learning.
The other EdTech is Video Assisted Learning. I think most of the teachers are using this now, I know some teachers now are recording themselves. Rather than doing Tiktok dance, probably you can record a lesson. The nice thing about videos, they’re very enriching for students, and for teachers it reduces also the workload, so rewind lang ng rewind kung gusto matuto. Now this is something surprising, I think a lot of educators might hate me for this about social media, but social media is something that you can use in education. Note that the Philippines is actually rank number one in social media. This is the reality right now, even beating Colombia and beating them by 30 minutes (which is 4 hours 15 minutes). And in terms of internet usage, 10 hours of our time or almost 11 hours; and the global average only six hours. This is the latest data, January data. Our adoption to e-commerce in 2021 is now 80.2%. This is something which I’d like to tell the other educators, I think rather than fight technology, you have to live with technology right now and use it. Instagram is actually the preferred social media platform of our students; 59% of them have Instagram, so why don’t we use it. And if you would look at the social platforms use: Facebook, Youtube, Whatsapp and Instagram, I think it’s about time that we tap into the social media. If you notice, most schools right now are using Instagram. If you look at the right side, one of the teachers has an Instagram page, and teachers can actually create lessons for sharing and post them not only in Instagram but also in Youtube. So it creates this culture of collaboration and sharing. But of course the teachers should be aware on how to use it, hindi lang pwede pabayaan yung estudyante otherwise they’ll be posting things, teachers won’t do that. So it should be still in a controlled environment.
This is what we want and this is something that we don’t actually get in school. It’s the Learning Analytics brought about by either an LMS or an e-learning platform, it’s really to measure and report student learning. In fact, when a student logs on to an LMS, it already tracks. It can track actually where the student goes and how fast he accomplishes the project or the lesson. It’s a good way for the teacher to get insights on the learning process of students and also see what students really like. Sometimes if they skip a subject probably that’s boring, so the teachers can actually remove it and replace it with something else. You can track log in threads, you can account the number of course access, and even the tools usage.
Now, Gamification is different from games. Gamification in education means actually motivating them and incentivizing them, and use game design elements in the learning environment. An example of this would be point systems, leaderboards, and badges. Now let me share with you an insight that we got. I think everyone’s familiar with Minesweeper, probably this is the one of the first games that you learn when you learned Windows. And I was questioning myself why there’s a Minesweeper in Windows, and the reason for that is because actually Minesweeper teaches. When Windows was introduced, a mouse was introduced. Minesweeper actually teaches everyone how to click the mouse. And we notice that when we train the Department of Education supervisors, these are almost seniors citizens, introduced to the computer and actually takot na takot, sabi baka mabura ko. And one of the lessons we told them, okay mag Minesweeper because it would teach them how to click. Now what’s the use of the Solitaire? Solitaire is actually used to teach them how to drag and drop, because mahirap yon. How can you click, you drag and drop? Teach them Solitaire, and doon sila nag exercise. For one hour, mag solitaire kayo. So again, this is where I think gamification plays a big role in education. And the nice thing about badges by the way is that it encourages students to immediately acquire a badge or this is called a digital certificate that they can attach after their names, if in social media. Now for example in this case, the student learned data analysis from Skillsoft, and when she graduates from that, she gets a badge. And that badge you can actually put in your social media, on your LinkedIn. And the person who looks into it can click the badge and verify whether that’s the right person, whether what she learned. Now if I’m an employer, I click on the badge and see what she learned. So again, in Informatics nakakatuwa because our students, paramihan sila ng badges. Of course they cannot get a badge until they pass the course. So again, it’s an incentive for student, instant gratification what they call it.
So where do we go from here? I am actually addressing this to all the schools. Of course we all know that DepEd went into learning modules and they did a little of online and distance learning. Now I think the next step is for them, and which is now being, done is to have limited face-to-face. And what I noticed when I looked at how other countries did it, it’s actually a limited face-to-face, whereby half of the students would not go to school so that there’d be social distancing. The other half would be doing it online. They do it MWF; TTh iba na naming set. So we reduce the numbers of students per class. But you need actually technology to do that. And the fourth one is actually what we call the hybrid and the blended approach, whereby there’s a mix of face-to-face and online homeschooling. And this I think where we’re heading. Honestly we won’t go back to 100 face-to-face. Eventually we’ll be doing hybrid. Now there’s this thing about flipped classrooms. Flipped classroom is actually you redefine the role of the teachers in the classroom. In the traditional classroom, the teacher is actually on the stage. But in a flipped classroom, if you would notice, the teacher is a coach, so the students would be talking to each other and the teacher would just be facilitating the discussion. That’s flipped. The other one is blended learning. I think there’s a confusion what’s hybrid and what’s blended learning. Blended learning is where the teacher says to the students, hey half of this we do offline, and the other half would be online. So it’s a teacher who still actually tells students when to go online and when to go face-to-face. Hybrid, meanwhile, is a flexible balance of online and offline, and it’s actually the student who will determine what works for the student. Some students are actually slow, let’s face it and they might need repetition. They need rewinding, something which you cannot do face-to-face. I remember the nice thing about e-learning is that you can rewind ten times and until you get it. But inside the classroom face-to-face, you’re gonna tell the teacher, “Ma’am can you repeat the entire lesson?” You cannot do that. In a hybrid learning mode, the student can actually rewind, repeat, and even take quizzes as much as he can until he gets it. So as they say, if there are different students, there are different ways of learning. So what are the learnings and insights? First I think education must move with the digital world, no doubt about it. Now let’s take this opportunity in this pandemic to revolutionize education. Again I think educators in schools like the UST should be the prime mover here. Remember technology is not an enemy; it’s not intended actually to replace teachers but really to enhance learning. So the role of technology is to enhance rather than to replace human teachers’ capabilities and human interaction. Now I think the new learning right now would be a combination of these components: Peopleware, we have teachers, the school admin and the students; Courseware, we have content and learning principles; Hardware would still be there, the schools would still be there, but the gadgets and aids would be there now; Softwares are I think the new thing that would happen to education; and lastly the connectivity. Now I just read this yesterday, and this is sad because if you notice, we fell actually in digital competitiveness. So if you notice, the Philippine performance went down, and the big factor, the big dip, happened in knowledge. The Philippines ranked 58 by the way, as of yesterday. Even our NEDA Secretary General Carl Chua also aired this to the Senate Committee just recently, last September. And he said that the lack of face-to-face class would limit the learning ability of students and it would have a lasting effect when the student enters the labor force. So the effect would not just be on students not learning but also the economy because we might have a labor force which is lacking in knowledge. And again, this is where technology should come in, to replace face-to-face. Now let me end this slide by saying, and let me paraphrase what Plato said, “Our need is our creator.” It means that in this case, we really need something to address the situation. And this necessity is going to be the mother of change and innovation. So with that, again I thank everyone. If you have questions, you can email me. And I’m present in social media, and I have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Thank you so much.