The Struggle of Online Education
by Joshua Villalobos
The COVID-19 pandemic has shoved to our throats a modality new to us – the online learning.
It should be noted that there are existing effective online education programs prior to the pandemic. Among its implementer is no less than the University of the Philippines under the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) that was established in 1995.
However, unlike students of UPOU who chose to enroll in an institution where education is done online, students from other colleges and universities are not mentally and logistically ready for online education.
Few weeks after private schools and universities reopened despite strict quarantine measures, calls for #AcademicFreeze went viral on various social media platforms. Stories and anecdotes of students working at night, asking to be excused due to poor connection or unavailability of a gadget, asking around for donations have filled our newsfeeds.
Some of the students have even resorted to selling nude pictures or videos to support their online education.
The fact of the matter is that online classes are very challenging. Aside from the country’s poor internet connection, issues of technological and financial resources are an undeniable factor that continues to make online classes difficult for the majority of Filipino students.
Because no educational institution has seen this coming, most of them don’t have their own online platforms, and if they have one, these platforms are often underdeveloped and unmaintained and would crash multiple times a week. Thanks to Google, Discord, Zoom, Canvas, and other free “classrooms” and teleconferencing softwares because they became very useful in this very challenging time. However, issues still arise because even some of the teachers are not well-versed on these platforms (and it is not their fault), hence, they cannot also assist students who are having issues with the channel.
Lest we forget that a lot of students don’t have studio type rooms with office-like settings to do the online classes. Students residing in crowded areas would need to shoulder the extra burden of outside noise that can discourage focus and of course learning. This new modality of learning has challenged all of us. Our resentment should be heard as a cry for help and a call upon different sectors of the society. It should not be viewed as a typical “reklamo” but rather an expression of universal pain felt by students in the middle of the pandemic.