Rev. fr. Jesus M. Miranda, Jr., O.P., PhD, the University Secretary-General and a faculty member of the Faculty of Philosophy and the Graduate School, presented how constructivist education can help make the implementation of online learning a success in a webinar hosted by the UST Institute of Religion and the Religious Educators Association of the Philippines. The webinar, entitled “How to be a Better Online Teacher: A Constructivist Approach,” took place on June 20, 2020.
The topic, which was inspired by the nationwide preparations for the new normal, focused on the potentials of online learning and how teachers can capitalize on it to ensure continued successful educational delivery. Emphasizing the constructivists’ call for learner-centeredness, fr. Miranda called on attendees to “find the uniqueness of each learner,” looking into such factors as abilities, talents, learning pace, emotional state of mind, learning styles, and access to technology.
fr. Miranda reminded teachers that in a constructivist learning environment, the teachers becomes a “guide, resource person, and moderator” rolled into one, and these roles are all possible even in an online learning environment. Given the shift to online learning, the classroom shifts, too, to being a “classnet,” which is “the online world created by the community of teachers who provide the wealth and varieties of experiences.” In this classnet, one can find the interaction of prior knowledge and new events, which interact with the home and community contexts where students will be physically located. Despite the absence of physical interaction in a school-based classroom, the classnet, fr. Miranda stressed, provides opportunities for the learner to interact with his/her mentors and peers.
Given that the classnet is also more unstructured and can give rise to different situations not typically found in the classroom, teachers must shift their ways of thinking and doing things to assist learners and their families in delivering education services. If successful, a “landscape of learning” is the output of teachers building and designing the classnet together.
Concretizing everything in preparation for the new academic year, fr. Miranda pointed to educational models such as personalized learning, independent learning, the development of innovative and creative instructional materials, and community teaching. Given these new models, fr. Miranda enumerated the following action points for the education community: 1) train and orient teachers on constructivist online education; 2) reformulate assessment practices; and 3) reformulate curriculum development.
Gathering over 500 attendees, the webinar was conducted via the UST Cloud Campus, powered by BlackBoard Collaborate. It was also streamed live via the Facebook Page of the UST Institute of Religion. In her address at the start of the webinar, Institute of Religion Assistant Director Catalina M. Lituañas, MA, said that the webinar was part of the Institute’s contributions to helping educators and stakeholders cope with the new normal and help them overcome resistance to what the situation now demands.