The pandemic has affected all industries all over the world, forcing change in the way things are done to cope with what is now called the “New Normal”. In the Philippines, this fundamental change is most evident and even pressing in the education sector with the approaching opening of the new school year.
Schools and educators are now looking to new strategies to deliver quality education to students outside the classroom, especially to those in far-flung areas with even more challenging circumstances. These include online to TV and radio to printed modules.
It is in this context that the CVIF-Dynamic Learning Program or DLP – a disaster-resilient, innovative, and low-budget teaching strategy – proves to be very effective. The brainchild of Filipino Theoretical Physicists and Ramon Magsaysay laureates Dr. Christopher Bernido and Dr. Ma. Victoria Carpio-Bernido, the program is designed to train students to learn independently, effectively, and responsibly, even with minimal supervision from both teachers and parents.
It focuses on student activity and aims to produce students whose competence in the Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology (STEM) disciplines are comparable to global standards.
First implemented in 2002 in the Central Visayan Institute Foundation (CVIF), the Bernidos’ secondary school in Jagna, Bohol, DLP immediately yielded positive results. Students showed improved academic performance in class and on national scholastic aptitude tests and higher success rates in entrance exams in premier universities in the country and abroad. This, with zero homework and face-to-face interaction with a teacher for an equivalent of only 20% of school time.
The program has since been rolled out in public and private schools all over the country.
Davao Christian High School adopted DLP in 2005, and this helped the school successfully transition to online classes after the pandemic was declared, according to Desi Magnaye, Junior High School Principal.
“Our transition to an online platform has been more manageable. We upload the activity sheets needed by the students for the day. These learning activity sheets are to be copied by hand, and once they are done, they submit a photo or PDF of their completed work via the online platform,” he explains.
DLP has also been successfully implemented in the Alternative Learning System (ALS), the flagship program of the Department of Education that offers second-chance education to youth and adults who failed to complete basic education.
The typical situation In ALS mirrors the challenges now faced by formal education: there are no classrooms and workbooks, teachers to cater to learners in different levels all at the same time. Face-to-face classes are held only once a week, and because of the learners’ financial circumstances, printed rather than online modules are used, and learners have to accomplish assignments on their own. With DLP, ALS teachers have been able to bypass these challenges.
“DLP is the answer to all our problems,” exclaims Renato A. Cayetano Jr., district coordinator of ALS in Bacnotan, La Union.
DLP’s Learning Activity Sheets trained ALS students to read and write, and this enhanced lesson retention, Cayetano says. “The activity sheet is easily understood without teacher supervision, which works well in far flung areas, and without need for varied instructional materials. It can be answered or studied even outside the classroom and at the learner’s convenient time, which is ideal for our working students,” he explains.
Most remarkable was the improved academic performance of the students, he adds.
In DLP, pre-developed Learning Activity Sheets is a key component. Indicated on a single page are the Activity Title, the Learning Target, and a short Concept Note similar to a digest of the topic to be learned, and several Exercises. The difference from a teacher’s lesson plan is that the activity sheet is designed to be copied, read, understood, and answered by the students independently, without prior lecture.
The use of the activity sheets has also lightened the teachers’ workload, according to Windel Alvarez, ALS Mobile Teacher in Caramoan, Camarines Sur.
“Our students learn according to their ability and availability, unlike in the formal school setting,” he says. They are motivated to learn, and answering the activity sheet improves their writing skill.
Prior to the enhanced community quarantine, the students had been given their activity sheets to answer, so they continue learning during the pandemic, he says.
Under DLP, 70-80% of the time the student learns on his own, with the teacher providing intervention only 20-30% of the time.
By focusing more on student activity rather than traditional lecture, DLP has proven to be effective in addressing the challenges teachers and learners face in difficult situations, such as sudden interruption of classes and restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 health crisis.
The immense challenges currently faced by the education sector necessitates looking into various methodologies to bring education to learners in a variety of contexts. For PLDT and its subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. and the PLDT-Smart Foundation, this means providing flexible learning options from online to on-air to offline through the Dynamic Learning Program, which the companies have been supporting since 2010.
“The DLP provides tried and tested simple yet highly-effective solutions that can help teachers, students, and parents hurdle the challenges posed by the pandemic and even smoothly transition to an in-classroom set-up in the future,” says Ramon Isberto, the Public Affairs Group Head of Smart.
Last June 17-19, private and public schools and even those in ALS that have adopted DLP will share best practices in a web forum entitled “No Learner Left Behind: Education for All in the New Normal.” Parents and teachers, especially those in the public schools, are invited to join the DLP web forum which will be streamed live via the Dynamic Learning Program Facebook page.