The Philippine education sector has become one of the most vulnerable segments of society with 28 million learners affected by school closures due to the coronavirus pandemic. As the country battles the disease, learning institutions are facing challenges in enrollment decline and academic continuity.
For STI College, addressing the challenges to meet its academic objectives is made possible through the creation of a new educational framework based on students’ current learning needs and demands.
“Preparing for a new school year during such unprecedented times calls for change and innovation on our existing learning model. It was imperative that STI not only focus on how to bring back classes, but on how to make it more engaging, more accessible, and safer for our students amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” said STI Vice President for Academics Aisa Q. Hipolito.
Fostering Strength in Information Technology
To enable unhampered learning for the upcoming school year, STI is introducing its ONline and ONsite Education or the ONE STI Learning Model. The academic framework fosters a responsive and innovative learning experience by using online tools and technology combined with onsite or on-campus hands-on training to achieve the desired learning outcome for the students.
The concept of online learning is not new to STI, as the institution already implemented a blended learning mode for the past five years using an eLearning Management System (eLMS) for students to use at home. With the ONE STI Learning Model, STI eLMS modules and topics have been modified to optimize more collaborative tools and platforms and house more engaging and interactive learning contents.
On the eLMS, STI students can now access, stream and download video lectures, educational motion graphics, and other learning materials. Learners can also make use of gamified learning activities and a customizable online weekly calendar to plan and manage their weekly schedules.
On the other hand, instructors have also adjusted their assessment methods to be more interactive through the use of polls and quizzes, online surveys, or by video submission and chat amongst others.
Aligning with STI’s founding mandate of producing college-ready and life-ready graduates, the model aims to fully enable students to continue their studies, move up to the next level, graduate, and seek eventual employment even during the pandemic.
Enabling Connectivity for Students
According to Hipolito, the entire STI academe did assessments and took into account all possible learning gaps as they were developing the program. With a diverse set of students coming from all economic backgrounds, the institution assured that every student will be equipped with the necessary tools to learn productively and efficiently.
In terms of online learning platforms, students can access a vast resource of learning materials through the eLearning Management System and the complete Microsoft Office Suite. As for other technologies, STI students can track their schedules and balances through the One STI Student Portal App.
However, one of STI’s bigger efforts to ensure accessibility across all of its campuses is with its recent partnership with PLDT Enterprise to provide all students a SMART SIM with 35GB monthly data plan for free.
With connectivity being the main hurdle in online learning, this endeavor pursued by STI has significantly lessened the burden on its many learners. This way, students can stay connected, have access to online materials, and study safely and comfortably from their homes.
Safety of Students at the Forefront
For STI, hands-on training in industry-grade laboratories and classroom experiences are still essential to learners’ knowledge, skills, and character developments.
To augment the need for on-campus learning experiences, STI will be conducting classes but under the strict safety precautions and in compliance with the regulations issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), the Department of Education (DepEd) for Senior High School, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for College, and the local government units and health departments.
To do this, class sections will be separated into batches with designated schedules to enforce social distancing. However, should onsite activities be prohibited by a government agency, the academe shall deliver these activities online or may be deferred to the succeeding term, or until on-campus sessions are allowed.
“With the risk of transmission still very prevalent, our students and staff’s safety is our utmost concern. But, nevertheless, we have prepared well to assuredly welcome back our students for a new term,” said Hipolito.
“The unprecedented times has challenged learning institutions across the world, and it has tested our resilience as educators and learners. But the current challenges have also provided us with opportunities and lessons to improve our learning systems to better fulfill our student’s education.”