The New Normal: Online Distance Learning

Last year I was so happy that we were able to pass the school assessment so Isobelle can attend into a regular school. She was able to finish the school year, passing exams and even was able to be included in the Achievers list. And right before we were about to finish officially the school year, COVID-19 happen. We didn't realize that this pandemic will surge till this month, the 6th month and with still ongoing number of cases in the country. 

Photo by 
August de Richelieu from Pexels

Every now and then, DepEd announces when will classes resume. But of course a lot of parents and students are not agreeing in this kind of situation. There were options provided for the parents to choose from, the modular and the online distance learning. Some private schools already used the online distance learning because they need to finish the school year since they started out late. I on the other hand, continued spending an hour with Isobelle at home doing homeschooling and using the last pages of her handbook. We didn't really realize that the school year would be affected that much. 

I tried to look online for other school provider if I wanted to pursue homeschooling instead of going to her recent school. But the tuition fee is much more higher than I expected. While some private schools haven't laid out their plan yet, the public schools are busy with online training and planning the modular approach for most of the students. I would have chosen this over attending online classes, but sadly, Isobelle's school doesn't have a modular only option. We have to attend online classes aside from the modules that they will provide on a quarterly basis. 

This week, we had a dry run of using the Microsoft Teams as the official partner in teaching the students. Unfortunately, I have been searching of ways on how to make it work for us. The school didn't provide an in depth approach on how to use the app. They just laid out the main buttons used but didn't exactly tell us what should be the orientation setup for this. I notice a lot of lapses using the app. 

For example, when we were attending the parents orientation, it was smoothly presented. On the parent teacher meeting, everything was fine. I was using the mobile device back then. But when we started with the dry run with the kids, it was a mess in my view. The video keeps on switching, the kids are out of focus and you can see their "sleepy" mode while the teacher is saying something. Isobelle even keeps on saying "boring" after the online class. I don't think we can focus on the teaching modality if I keep myself on the background because Isobelle keeps on talking and looking at me when the teacher ask something. I find her keeping out of focus and irritated when the video switches from her teacher to her classmates. Then after a co-parent help with the navigation, I can now switch to grid view or to what I preferred, pin teacher's video in the center. 

Another thing is the presentation. In some cases, a teacher needs to present a powerpoint presentation of her lesson. But sadly, there are also glitches. Some parents cannot see it. Who's to blame with this scenario? The device use? The app? The internet connection? Good thing with this is that the teacher have a backup. However, I think that the execution of the powerpoint should be presented in a manner readily available before the class started. Everything should be well presented when it comes to the class hour. There are a lot of tutorials online and I can simply sense that the school didn't provide an in depth training too. Sadly, it's not just the teachers problem but it also a burden to students and us parents. I ended up taking screenshots of the lesson even if the recording is readily available for us. I wanted to make this work for Isobelle because I don't really have a choice for now.

We were also able to dry run the online quiz. But I am not in favor of this idea either. For the pre-elem, we were advise to keep the microphone on so that the teacher will hear if a parent coach her child. Surely you can hear us, but we can definitely point the correct answer on the screen without being caught on the webcam. Honesty is the best policy but we cannot attest the fact that some parents may be using this advantage. Who would hit submit button with incorrect answers of her child? Let's be truthful that every parent is competitive and will surely find a way not to miss a perfect score. 

With regards to school's announcement, I also notice that they were announcing details in a short message but consistently adding information from time to time. It was like having an online beeper! They have short reminders. The instructions are not as clear as it should be and even not synchronize. I thought schools are organize when it comes to this matter. How come that a school have different information passed on to every parent on every section? As a matter of fact it should be always announce at the school page or if they really wanted a private announcement why not setup a group page and settle all matters there. I also notice that when a parent asked on the Facebook page, it was hardly answered, no response a lot of times. So I don't really know if I was the only who's having this dilemma or the parents are not asking at all.

These are some of the thoughts lingering in my mind with regards to this new normal online distance learning. Of course, nothing can be perfect for now. I actually expected a lot from our school provider this week. Why? We will pay for a much higher tuition fee with respect to other schools. They started earlier than the announced date of DepEd. I thought that they were ready for this but the mishaps this trial week is stressful already.

By next week, on the first day of school, I do hope that the system will improve day by day because if not, the student will also suffer with this kind of modality.

What I fairly realize about this modality so far, is that the internet and gadget is not really the culprit of an ineffective school year. 

The school system might be.

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