Thursday, July 31, 2008

The biggest room in the house...

... always is the room for improvement.

Personally, I know that when I am passionate about something, I really surprise even myself as to the lengths I will go to for it. But I have to admit that I am just simply overwhelmed and thus, are having problems with managing my priorities and time.

Aside from adjusting to staying at home (and its psychosocioeconomic implications for me) and a baby (who do not seem to know the word 'routine' has been coined and is good), adjusting to studying via DE is also posing a big challenge for me.

I am actually enjoying the reading and being able to learn on my own, but I find myself always backtracking over words and concepts that are new or intimidating. And finding things as intimidating and overwhelming isn't good, because then it gets me unconsciously putting up a resistance to actually learn. Putting off studying is not something an active learner does. Cramming isn't something an active learner does.

Good thing for me, DE allows some liberty of pacing for its students. And I intend to try better this time. I mean, do better, not just try.

The most important thing I believe will make a difference really is time management. Coming up with a realistic schedule to study and sticking to it will make it a habit, instead of a chore. And studying regularly will help with my feelings of insecurity, it will empower me and thus make learning more enjoyable for me.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Homeschooling is becoming more and more popular in the Philippines as more and more parents are getting involved in their kids' education and are wont to embrace alternatives to what has been popularly available.

One mine of information and support for those who may be considering it is the yahoogroups PINOYHOMESCHOOL, where many parents who have, and are succesfully, homeschooling their kids share their resources and realizations with those who are hoping to go the same road.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Behaviorism Tutorial

In case you need to brush up on your psych know-how, are preparing to teach foundations of psychology or education, or is currently involved in discussions over it, this Behaviorism Tutorial complete with a Q&A portion (to check if you really understood what you read) should come in handy.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Distance Education and Technology

Technology, what's available, that is, affects distance education and its development in the following ways:

COST – at a time when distance education was only limited to correspondence, where coursework has to be printed and sent via courier, cost was an issue. Plus, you use and end up wasting more paper. Preparing the course kits may require more manpower too, depending on the number of students. The number of students also affected whether a lecture video will be provided or not, since it might not be worth the cost of making one if there are only a few who will benefit from it.

And when certain information have become obsolete in view of more recent findings and breakthroughs, especially in the medical field, buying new books result in more expense.

With the advent of computers and the Internet, however, what is spent on changed. Initial investment went to infrastructure , equipment and gadgets. The delivery of instruction itself almost became cost-less, however, once everything is in place (the computers, the internet service provider, the servers, the programs, the virtual school). Students also get to use a wider array of resources since they are not limited to their assigned reading materials anymore but have a world of information at their fingertips.

TIME – Snail mails were called that for a reason. It usually takes several days before it arrives (and that's now, so one can only imagine how much worse the waiting was when transportation meant horses). Although the wait could have allowed the learner precious time to really study and nitpick his answers to his assignments, it still deprived him of precious immediate feedback regarding his progress.

Now, not only can there be more topics covered/more supervised activities done within a grading period, feedback and evaluation can happen in real time too. A learner no longer has long to wait before getting a reaction to what he submitted and the mentor can also more readily check whether the module needs some fine-tuning or not, based on the learners' comments.

CURRICULUM – faster interaction between mentor and learner, and among learners, meant that the curriculum had to adapt. It had to re-evaluate the learning models it uses as well as the learning activities. Distance Education used to only offer vocational courses and special skills instruction, now it literally allows for almost every certificate, diploma, undergrad, and specialization course there is. High school graduates can now work full-time while getting their degrees.

It doesn’t mean that curriculum quality has necessarily improved nor has it worsened, but its thrusts and goals and strategies certainly changed and adapted to the more demanding learning culture of today.

QUALITY OF LEARNING – compare learning about the Renaissance Period from texts and learning about it through texts, pictures, music files, video documentaries and even fashion designers. Because of technology, learning has become a richer experience even for someone who is doing it mostly on his own from home. And because of the real-time interaction that is now possible with technology, you can literally share Eureka moments with classmates who are nowhere near you.

Of course, the downside could be too much information so readily available and obtainable that cheating and plagiarizing has reached new heights as well.

INSTRUCTIONAL MEDIA, TOOLS AND THEIR QUALITY – I would imagine that people then took more care in their printed course works because any mistakes would result in additional cost and time wasted. Now, everything is just so easy to edit. The upside, however, is that we are no longer limited to just using our eyes in order to learn. Technology is allowing us more and more to really experience what we study aside from allowing us different ways to study it, at a time and place most convenient for us. Enter E-learning and M-learning, and instructional materials in varying forms reach us in no time.

RELATIONSHIP OF TEACHER AND LEARNER - I believe that before, the relationship between DE mentors and learners isn't as open and two-way as it is now. Before, teachers/tutors are the only mentors. Now, even learners can be mentors by bringing with them, not just their potential and finished case study, but other valuable resources they found on their own which they can now easily share with their teacher and peers. Technology is also facilitating the exchange of ideas between 'classmates' (something not as feasible before) as an integral part of DE, making it no longer unique to classroom-based instruction.

LITERATURE FOR FUTURE LEARNERS – Before, when interaction was limited, usually between mentor and learner, great exchanges between them do not often get to enjoy other audiences. Technology today, however, allows for these discussions to serve as literature for future learners. Whether they come in the form of archived pages in a portal/message board, or blog posts, these past dialogues and suppositions are a mine of information for other learners. Documenting one’s progress is more easily done today, thanks to technology.

Countries, or institutions, that are not too keen or without the resources to invest in, operate and compete electronically will be left behind in this Information Age. And if we measure our country’s progress by the number of those being properly educated, it will be really critical for DE to be offered not just as an opportunity for everyone, but as an alternative to what is more commonly being offered. However, jumping on the techie bandwagon just for the sake of being updated also won’t do because the Information Age requires capital expenditures and re-training for those who want to enjoy it. If all critical conditions are not met, learning will be affected. DE institutions with slow servers will turn off their own enrollees from studying. Mentors that cannot keep up with their more internet-savvy (by virtue of being younger and growing up owning gadgets) students might make these learners feel like they’re being held back, instead of being challenged.

I have used the word again and again... I am actually tired of it. But innovations in technology really determine how accessible education can be, and how beneficial and relevant distance education can be.

Monday, July 14, 2008


In an education system where not even every student actually gets to have his own books (my former classmates told me that they even summarize book chapters and photocopy these using their own money just so their pupils would have 'books'), or even a chair to sit on... how can instructional design flourish as a necessary tool for educational progress?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Interaction = Cake

I am a social animal.

And I grew up personally interacting with mentors and classmates who added to, or took away, from my learning experiences inside the classroom (depending on the teacher and how responsive/attentive my classmates were).

So, as convenient virtual interaction is, personal interaction would always be the icing on the cake. It would always spell some sort of difference. But yes, I can do without it and still be okay. I would still always crave for it though, and look for it, and would appreciate being rewarded with some after a while.

Interacting with mentors and peers is very important for me. Had I lived during the correspondence era, I might not have considered distance education because feedback is very important for me. I like knowing where I stand where discussions and requirements are concerned. I like being graded even though I’m not really that grade-conscious. I like being challenged by other's questions, concerns and differing point-of-views. And I prefer these things to be readily given. Interaction keeps me interested, stimulated and on my toes.

However, with DE being the way it is, real-time interaction may not always happen. Though that is not necessarily bad, it does limit learners as well. For example, in our UPOU Moodle Board, I can read other people's comments/postings but some of them may not have expressed themselves well, and I will get confused as to what they meant. Other classmates also might not be posting as much because, just like in classrooms, they feel intimidated by the others (their backgrounds, their lengthy discussions, etc). And then, there is the fact that not everyone enjoys the same ITC equipment, so some who may have contributed much couldn’t go online for days.

Of course, being allowed asynchronous discussions, we are all also given the liberty to dwell on the questions first, really reflect on our answers and review them before posting them. And some who are shy IRL feel freer to speak up in discussion boards. And feedback, guidance and counselling, when sought, are attended to readily when DE works with technology in providing the interaction that is essential to the learning experience.

I said personal interaction is the icing on the cake, but the cake is still INTERACTION. If it's really good, even if it's only virtual, then the learning experience would still be very fulfilling.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


I'm only enrolled in two subjects but already, am finding myself unable to breathe.

First, there are the BIG words... ACADEME words I haven't heard/read for ages, some i've never even really heard.

Second, there is the THINKING required for the assignments. It's not that I haven't done much of it in recent years, but I haven't thought that way in years! Finding myself contemplating designs, models, methods, connections, etc. again is like being presented with Calculus. Ugh.

Third, there is the adjustment thing... since I have to include the studying in my ever-changing daily routine. I am literally losing sleep again just reading and typing up responses for my virtual community.

Fourth, there is Harry Potter. I have no idea why I had to re-read the series and now cannot stop till i've finished the seven books again. I'm only starting the fifth.

Fifth, there is the Amelia Bedelia series, which is a new discovery. Absolutely funny series. Perfect for teaching idioms, really.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Thoughts on M-Learning

"M-learning , or "mobile learning", now commonly abbreviated to "mLearning", has different meanings for different communities. Although related to e-learning and distance education, it is distinct in its focus on learning across contexts and learning with mobile devices. One definition of mobile learning is: Learning that happens across locations, or that takes advantage of learning opportunities offered by portable technologies . In other words, mobile learning decreases limitation of learning location with the mobility of general portable devices.

The term covers: learning with portable technologies, where the focus is on the technology (which could be in a fixed location, such as a classroom); learning across contexts, where the focus is on the mobility of the learner, interacting with portable or fixed technology; and learning in a mobile society, with a focus on how society and its institutions can accommodate and support the learning of an increasingly mobile population that is not satisfied with existing learning methodologies. " (from

With technology being what it is today, where documents and audio/video files can be stored in our mobiles (phones, PDAs, PDA phones) and where you can access the internet anywhere and can therefore go online anytime, M-learning is a very appropriate term indeed.

After successfully enrolling, my husband formatted his other PDA for me, so I can read the e-books/documents in .pdf format even in bed. And just in case I actually want to check messages in the middle of a long and winded wedding reception, or I need to look up something on the net while vacationing with the family (maybe, download an assigned .pdf file), I can just borrow his PDA phone. At home, however, I have two computers (desktop and laptop) and two intenet connections (DSL and Mobile Broadband) at my disposal for all the homework I should be doing.

M-learning allows for learning on the go, something that will take Distance Education to even greater heights as it breaks down more location limits. M-learning also allows for a paperless learning as you can save entire documents and access them at will. PDAs will also most gladly store your notes for you. But in the same way that not everyone likes text messaging to communicate, I also seem to prefer reading from paper and jotting down notes on paper. None of the electronic notes and Post-Its for me. I have never liked reading e-books (reading from computers also seem to tire the eyes out more easily) which is too bad really, as it will save a lot on baggage (for when we’re travelling) and will definitely save the trees. And this is weird since I can go online for hours.

Bless me, too, for I am not the auditory type. Sure, I love music and all but I also don’t assimilate stories heard as much as when I read them, so what more academic lectures?

I guess in time I will learn, maybe not enough to prefer it, but enough at least to adapt how I learn to these ‘conveniences’. However, as educational tools, mobile devices and other electronic gadgets have definitely taken away a lot of possible reasons for a student NOT to study and learn (my dog ate my PDA?), provided, of course, that he can afford these things. And if the thrust of DE indeed is tapping every available tool to get people learning, the greatest hurdle to cross will be making the technology accessible to those who truly need it. We can start with just making it affordable, which is a big challenge in itself. And of course, there is the re-training that may be required for the mentors and students alike who haven’t yet jumped on the techie bandwagon.

One thing I might also add to this is the emerging culture of having a secondary computer that is handier and cheaper. Aside from desktops growing more and more old-fashioned... laptop owners are the same people being tapped as market for smaller computers (think Asus eee and Astone tablet PC). I know PDAs are smaller and handier but people usually like using keyboards aside from enjoying all the basic offerings of a PC. These cheaper, smaller PCs allow techies to bring them everywhere. Plus, they are already manufactured to accommodate sim cards, for the GPRS/HSDPA offerings of cellphone networks. So even if there's no free wifi where you are, so long as you have a cellphone signal, you can still go online.

A proof of this trend is Globe's tie-up with Asus eee PC.