“In these trying times, we turn to ICT to provide a semblance of continuity in our society and in our lives, as we gradually transition to the ‘new normal.’ In line with the directives of President Rodrigo Duterte, through the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID), we need to capitalize on available ICT resources and adapt to new ways of learning and working while keeping ourselves and our families safe,” DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said.
On the official website of DICT, it stated that its ICT Literacy and Competency Development Bureau (ILCDB), Cybersecurity Bureau, and Regional Offices were to formulate and facilitate the conduct of webinars aimed at capacitating and upskilling the ICT competencies of teachers, administrators, educators, and students in different public and private educational institutions, and state universities and colleges (SUCs).
Consequently, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has been adapted by DepEd as a means for teachers and employees to communicate, transmit documents and reports, conduct virtual meetings and webinars and as a tool for educational opportunities in both formal and non-formal areas. According to Tinio (2002), in the teaching-learning process, ICTs can increase learners’ motivation and engagement in classroom learning. It equips learners with digital age literacy, inventive thinking, higher order thinking and sound reasoning, effective communication, and high productivity.
However, a recent study by Colás-Bravo (2019) on digital competence in future teachers that proposes a model for the development of teacher digital competence revealed a medium level of development of digital competence and concluded that there was still much to do in terms of teacher training in ICT, being necessary to provide strategies for the development of this skill in their students.
Moreover, Correos (2014) assessed teachers’ ICT literacy, the extent of ICT in teaching, and the challenges that prevent teachers from integrating ICT in teaching. The findings showed that the teachers’ ICT literacy was moderate. Further, it revealed that teachers faced many challenges that demotivate them from using ICT, and so, intensive ICT-based trainings were recommended to equip them with knowledge of ICT and its utilization in language teaching.
Before the commencement of classes for the school year 2020- 2021, Deped has been conducting seminars on various ICT-based teaching strategies to help educators prepare for the coming school year. Seminar topics include development of electronic books or e-books and other open education resources; introduction to programs and applications that can be used for teaching such as photo and video editing tools and capacity building on adopting the “new normal” classroom setup. As a result, a total of 337,486 public school teachers and 10,521 private school teachers completed the webinars.
The use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the Department of Education (DepEd) is anchored on four major areas of the Digital Rise Program under the Public Schools of the Future framework pursuant to Sulong Edukalidad, namely: Digital Literacy Skills, ICT- Assisted Teaching, ICT- Assisted Learning, and Automation of organization processes. While the use of ICT in teaching-learning processes is very promising as the joint effort of different agencies including DICT and DepEd has been strengthened due to Covid- 19 pandemic, the main hindrances are internet speed and accessibility. In addition to that, not every student or learner has smart phone or laptop or even television at home. If they do, they do not always have the means to pay for a load or internet access. The readiness and preparedness of both DICT and DepEd is challenged by poor connectivity issues and economic status of households especially those living in the far-flung areas.
As series of community quarantines and guidelines have been mandated by National Inter- Agency Task Force to mitigate the spread of the virus since its onset, like other agencies in the government and private sectors, DepEd resorted to the use of internet in sending and receiving reports and documents, and virtual meetings and webinars. With the influx of internet data consumers, connectivity issues became more prevalent and caused delays and glitches in the delivery of information.
Despite technological advancements and preparedness of DepEd together with DICT, access to the internet, poor connectivity issues, and economic status of households are the major limiting factors to ICT use. While poor internet connection can be mitigated by loading digital materials and pre-recorded videos into the devices of teachers and learners, not all learners can afford to buy gadgets as educational tools. To bridge the digital divide, some schools adopted the use of Television or Radio Broadcasting, and the rest of the schools in the entire country chose Self-Learning Modules (SLMs).
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