Volume 18 Digital Issue
DIWA INNOVATION SPOTLIGHT
3 Essential Steps for Effective Modular Teaching and Learning
Distance learning was unfamiliar territory for most of the education sector when the Department of Education (DepEd) mandated its implementation in 2020. Schools had to choose between online distance learning, modular distance learning, or TV/radio-based instruction as their learning delivery modality for school year 2020-2021.
Schools that lacked the infrastructure to completely shift to online opted for the modular approach. This involves distributing print or digital self-learning modules (SLMs) to students that can be used either synchronously or asynchronously. Schools that opted for a totally offline modular learning delivery had to enlist the cooperation of teachers, parents, and even LGUs to deliver SLMs and collect students’ assessments and activity sheets. Those that were internet-capable, however, implemented a flexible learning approach, implementing a mix of synchronous and asynchronous methods for their classes.
Regardless of delivery method, modular distance learning has presented many challenges to educators and learners alike. Here are three essential steps that educators can take to implement modular distance learning effectively.
1. Level with students’ expectations.
The key to any distance learning setup is for teachers and students to start on equal footing. Learn about students’ home conditions. What resources do they have? Who is present to guide their education? What communication channels are available to them? From the students’ answers to these questions, teachers would have a better idea of how their students would be able to perform under a specific setup and could even craft a learning environment that could accommodate as much of their students’ needs and limitations as possible.
At the same time, teachers must be very clear on what they expect from their students. Instruction, delivered either online or offline, must be as specific and as detailed as possible. This minimizes error from a misunderstanding of the material given to students.
Lastly, communicate, communicate, communicate. Check in on students’ progress and make necessary adjustments. Ensure that they have all the needed learning materials and are following the timetable for the lessons. Modular distance learning, especially when contrasted with online distance learning, gives the impression that students are left on their own with their studies. That is far from true. Even offline modular learning has to be moderated by teachers, and teachers must treat it with the same attention as they would face-to-face classes.
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2. Help parents understand and acclimate to their new responsibilities.
In a survey published by the DepEd before the school year started, 42% of parents of private and public school students preferred modular learning over other blended or online learning delivery modalities. This does not mean, however, that parents were prepared for the additional responsibilities that distance learning would bring. As early as the start of the school year, some parents were already sharing their hardships over the new tasks that befell them.
A completely offline modular learning delivery poses even more challenges for parents, as they are expected to take the place of teachers to help continue their children’s education at home. But whether a school’s modular approach is offline or blended, it is important to build a good relationship with the parents or caregivers of students. Otherwise, schools run the risk of causing a disconnect between what they want students to learn through the SLMs, and how parents are contributing to students’ education at home, therefore impeding students’ learning in the process.
There are various steps educators can take to bridge the gap between themselves and students’ families. The crucial element is to open the lines of communication in the first place. However, make sure to set boundaries as well. Let parents know what hours they can contact you, and through what platform. This way, a respectful working relationship can be established.
Instruction, delivered either online or offline, must be as specific and as detailed as possible.
3. Choose educational materials that are engaging, flexible, accessible, enriching, and relevant.
Since the school year started, there have been several controversies over SLMs that had incorrect or inappropriate content, prompting lawmakers and education leaders to call for a nationwide assessment of all learning materials. It is imperative, then, for teachers to be more thorough in vetting the materials they use for their classes. The students’ learning materials must be able to compensate as much as possible for the lack of face-to-face instruction, especially when it comes to offline modular learning delivery.
Aside from looking out for errors, teachers should also select educational resources that can make the transition to modular distance learning smoother not only for students but also for themselves. This was the goal of educational resources provider Diwa Learning Systems Inc in creating its new Diwa 5G product suite, which includes print and digital K-to-12 solutions that can be utilized in any learning delivery modality.
Diwa Textbooks, in particular, come with the Teacher's Guide: A Modular Approach to Flexible Learning Delivery, a narrative matrix that provides educators with relevant teaching instructions and student assessments for either online learning delivery or for self-directed offline learning delivery. Guided by the DepEd’s Most Essential Learning Competencies (MELCs), this carefully breaks down and translates the lessons and activities found inside Diwa Textbooks into digestible and bite-sized modules divided per grading period.
The Teacher’s Guide includes a detailed learning workflow for synchronous and asynchronous sessions with prescribed time allotment, allowing teachers and students to begin and end every grading period on time. It also addresses the need for a strong partnership between schools and families by highlighting which parts of the lesson can parents take a more active role in the learning process of their children.
Distance learning has allowed education to continue even in the midst of a pandemic. And though there are some hiccups along the way, what is important is to keep finding ways to make distance learning work, whatever the learning delivery modality may be.