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Exclusive! Cloud Technology’s Vital Role in the Evolving Pedagogy of the Philippines’s Education

Students used to go to the library and open large books to find the information they needed but the education system has changed since the emergence of e-learning. Even before the pandemic, Instruction was increasingly conducted remotely and on digital platforms and has had a profound effect on education.

This shift was further accelerated when the pandemic hit, with all sectors and citizens realising the need to have the option to learn online. Many local governments gave students mobile devices, teachers were trained to maximise digital learning and used radio and TV lectures to bridge the divide created by the prolonged lockdowns.

Computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets are just a few examples of devices that have become indispensable in the new normal. These are no longer just for entertainment and are now widely used in the educational sector.

The power and significance of technology in education are more apparent than ever, as Filipino students require access to education even in times of crisis. The OpenGovLive! Virtual Breakfast Insight focused on the Philippines’ educational system, a vital component of a country’s cultural, social, and economic growth and development.

The Era of Digitalisation in Academe

Mohit Sagar: Technologies to cope with new demands
Mohit Sagar: Technological advancements can make learning enjoyable, engaging and interactive

Kicking off the session, Mohit Sagar, CEO & Editor-in-Chief, emphasised that this is the era of technology and digitalisation, and data is the backbone of infrastructure.

“With the rapid growth of the e-learning industry, the education sector is evolving. Teaching and learning methodologies have evolved. Students are savvy and the teachers need to be equally savvy,” Mohit stresses.

The pandemic had a significant impact on the educational sector in the Philippines, which had one of the world’s longest lockdowns. An estimated 28 million students stayed at home hoping to continue learning remotely but many were hampered by slow internet connections. Having a working device for use during classes was also a challenge for the less fortunate.

The prolonged closure prompted UNICEF to declare that there was learning loss, mental distress and an increased risk of dropping out. Fortunately, the use of cloud technology in education solves many problems and expands opportunities for both students and educational institutions.

Technological advancements have enabled educators to make learning enjoyable, engaging and interactive. Traditional methods of education are being quickly replaced by approaches developed from technology that are more participatory. In this situation, teachers can’t avoid adopting tech-savvy practices.

“Whatever organisation or industry uses cloud technology, it is always a game-changer. It is a solution to many existing problems in the educational sector, as well as an opportunity to explore various modern methods of learning,” Mohit says emphatically.

With all these changes, the academe is now also focusing more than ever on cyber security because of the surge in cyber-attacks, data breaches, and the release of sensitive information.

Security is of utmost importance for many enterprises and organisations, including learning. They are worried about the integrity of their information systems in addition to working to safeguard their system and employees from various risks and criminal threats. The concerns are serious and merit serious proactive action considering the spate of ransomware attacks on educational institutions in the U.S. – which may also happen in the Philippines.

Therefore, businesses, educational institutions, and governmental organisations greatly need cyber-security experts. The benefits of engaging computer security experts are numerous and obvious, especially if the institution manages sensitive data or has a large staff.

“Let’s make the most of all technological advancement, support one another, and keep looking for answers to the problems the education sector is currently facing,” Mohit exhorts delegates.

AWS for Education​: Accelerating the Digital Transformation of Education

Julian Lau: Hybrid learning is a new educational model; digital educational systems are here to stay

Julian Lau, Head of ASEAN Emerging Markets, Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services (AWS) acknowledges that the outbreak has caused a swift and widespread disruption that has forced instructors to alter their approach and ensure that all students continue to learn. Many campuses have closed and online techniques have replaced onsite instruction and evaluation.

Though it seems the tail-end of the pandemic, digital educational systems are here to stay even when onsite classes resume this school year.

“People skillset is not all about students and teachers, but it should refer to all departments to support the new normal. The education system has new learning tools to provide better education to the students,” says Julian.

He emphasises that hybrid learning is a new educational model in which some students attend class in person. In contrast, others join virtually from other locations, such as home, a dormitory, or coffee shops with internet access.

While blended and e-learning have been around for a while, hybrid learning is the next step. Blended learning provides digital, interactive and engaged teaching in the classroom and ensures that students attending remotely have the same learning experience. Hybrid learning, on the other hand, empowers students and gives them the choice of whether to learn in person or participate online.

Julian highlights the importance of collaboration with the entire education community, which could result in the accelerated digital transformation of the academic system.

He believes that the transformation journey in academe should begin with four basic principles: Modernising and securing the academy; turning data into wisdom; enriching the student experience, and empowering researchers and accelerating research.

Furthermore, Julian feels that a successful transformation journey needs collaboration and when looking for a partner he advises that people look for one who has the following capabilities to help the institution with its digital transformation:

  • Global Infrastructure​
  • Security​
  • Breadth of Services
  • Vibrant Community​
  • Customer-Focused Culture​
  • Low Cost​

TESDA Online Programme: Philippines’ First Technical Online Course

Redilyn Agub: Delivering technical-vocational education and training at the learner’s convenience

Redilyn Agub, Chief TESD Specialist (e-TESDA), TESDA shared that as more courses become available on the platform, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority’s online platform, eTESDA, keeps growing its online training programme.

A web-based platform – TESDA Online Program (TOP) – provides free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for the technical training and skill advancement of the Filipino workforce. With its 100+ courses, TOP provides a practical and efficient way to deliver technical-vocational education and training at the learner’s convenience utilising information and communication technology.

Students may learn through web scripts, instructional videos, visual materials, online quizzes, interactive learning materials and practice activities.

“Our email server had issues, but we were able to resolve them with the help of the other local government organisations and AWS. This is where the motivation for cloud migration begins,” Redilyn recalls.

She adds that some benefits of clouds for their agency include ease of migration, stable and scalable system, availability of services, technical support, cost efficiency, security, and ease of monitoring.

One benefit of enrolling in these online courses from TESDA is the ability to “learn at your own speed.” The students can continue working at their regular jobs or attending classes while also taking these courses whenever they have free time, so they do not need to miss out on these activities.

Additionally, since classes are free, students are not required to pay tuition for their daily activities. The fact that the courses are given on demand also makes it simple for students to go back to their readings whenever they need to brush up on their knowledge.

TESDA’s use of cloud computing enables them to expand its activities internationally even the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) can enrol and gain certificates.

No matter how far a college is from where they live, students can select where to attend. Additionally, there is a chance to acquire access to knowledge repositories around the world and contribute to the knowledge bank’s overall accumulation for the benefit of all.

Finally, the best thing about taking a course with eTESDA is that they grant a certificate once students pass an assessment test at a TESDA assessment centre.

Interactive Discussions

After the informative talks, the delegates participated in conversations facilitated by polling questions. OpenGovLive! Virtual Breakfast Insight is intended to give live audience interaction, encourage participation, let people hear about real-life experiences, and help participants learn and grow professionally.

On being asked what their cloud strategy is, an overwhelming majority (73%) answered hybrid cloud while others opted for are all on-premises (15%) or multi-cloud (12%).

Inquiring on how they rate their cloud adoption, about a third (35%) said they based it on customer/citizen satisfaction. Just over a quarter (27%) based it on high availability/downtime management. The remaining delegates use cloud consumption/utilisation (15%) or resource productivity and efficiency (12%) as their metrics.

One delegate felt that everything goes well when they focus on customer satisfaction while another believes it is users’ needs that are important.

Regarding the criterion for selecting cloud providers, well over a third (36%) opted for performance, while others chose security (28%) or innovation (12%).

Asked what they thought was the biggest problem with going digital and moving to the cloud, 36% cited people and skillset while 24% felt executive support/top management strategy to be concerning. The budget was an issue for a fifth (20%) and the remaining delegates (16%) has problems with legacy infrastructure.

Sharing their plans to modernise their application and legacy systems, over half (54%) said they would work with a cloud service provider. The rest were equally split between outsourcing to a system integrator (19%) and application assessment to move to the cloud (19%).

The final question asked the delegates what external assistance they believe is most needed for cloud migration. The majority (32%) voted for technical expertise to execute the cloud migration plan. The rest of the delegates were almost evenly divided over risk assessment and management (28%) and technical expertise to plan and project management (24%).

Conclusion

COVID-19 presents an opportunity to rethink education, which should focus more on what, how, and where students could learn. The possibility of large-scale, long-term changes in academia is dependent on many factors, but a big part is influenced by decision-makers and the public’s appreciation of online learning which was massively used during the pandemic. Through the prolonged lockdowns, parents, educators, students, and the government saw classes can continue and remain effective even when held online.

One of the greatest benefits of cloud technology as a strategy is that it gives students access to education regardless of disruptions outside the home. For a country that experiences more than 20 typhoons annually which disrupt classes, this benefit would have a significant impact on the learner’s progress -with no disruption and fewer reasons to drop out.

A blended learning approach mixes in-person learning sessions with online lessons that the teacher may record or conduct live. With better access to resources, instructional strategies, and support, this model offers instructors a wide range of opportunities for professional growth. As the students gain more liberty to investigate and research diverse topics, the model provides them with an opportunity for deeper comprehension.

Another huge potential provided by cloud computing is to accommodate the various learning preferences and rates of pupils. The kids’ ability to absorb knowledge will be improved.

On the other hand, many enterprises think they can handle everything internally, many firms may be reluctant to collaborate with a partner for cloud migration. However, many companies will inevitably make mistakes that end up costing them much more than the money they anticipated saving by switching to the cloud.

Partners like AWS can help the educational sector create efficiencies and make their strategies more effective by utilising their expertise and experience in cloud technology. Each cloud provider offers distinct advantages for the service they can provide, and users only pay for what they use.

In closing, Julian emphasises that the support of top management is crucial in jumpstarting and maintaining the digital transformation of an organisation.  “Digital transformation is not something that you do yourself. You need to get the support of the top management, and everything will follow.”

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