Despite the hopes of creating a blended learning environment, real limitations exist in how technology can be made available inside and outside the Philippine classroom. As such, bulk of learning experiences still rely on brick and mortar methods.
Having worked in e-learning. I know how it has been a challenge for schools to even implement blended learning strategies and methods. One key challenge is the comfort level of teachers (especially the more senior ones) to adopt technology.
Being digital migrants (compared to learners who are digital natives), some simply view the use of technology in education as simply using projectors and computers. PowerPoint often becomes the pinnacle of educational technology, never mind if students are not at all impressed with bullet-laden slideshows accentuated by dizzying (and cheesy) animation.
It is critical to expose teachers to new ways of doing things. The problem is, many teachers aren’t even exposed to the new philosophies and approaches to teaching that are proven to be more effective in today’s environment. For example, in teaching English, it is proven that using the communicative language teaching (CLT) approach is more suitable for second language learners like us. And yet, many English teachers still go by traditional methods hooked up on grammaticality. It is in part because of the tendency to teach in the manner through which they were previously taught, in part because they aren’t even aware that there is CLT.
The cost of infrastructure is another. It is a major investment for schools to provide a 1:1 ratio laptops/projectors per classroom. Computer labs (hardware + software + networking + maintenance) remain to be a blows to schools’ budgets. Having competent and sustainable IT support is also a challenge. Many have made a killing by offering overpriced IT services to tech unsavvy school administrators.
Internet speed and cost also remains dismal. How can we use the wealth of information already made available if a single class of 30 using a connection throws back the whole school infrastructure to dial up speeds on a per user basis. Good luck loading educational videos with that.
Now there will be much buzz about flipped classrooms. Flipped classrooms are where the fact parts of learning is taken out of the classroom (goodbye, boring lectures). Instead, students get to learn these things prior to classroom engagement thanks to internet and digital resources. Classroom learning now becomes an opportunity for mentoring, collaboration, and accomplishment of performance tasks that enhance, re-align, and elaborate on the information the students have discovered online.
It all appears to be quite nice. It’s the “in” thing in international education conferences an soon, in local conferences. It would be quite tragic to see how it would be spun by many an “expert” as the panacea educators are waiting for without having to discuss the real issues that need to be addressed.