The University of Santo Tomas was hailed as one of the inaugural winners in the 1st Gawad Edukampyon Awards, receiving the plum for “Excellence in Flexible and Responsive Management (Private Higher Education Institution).” The award, publicly announced on October 25, 2021, was conferred by the Commission on Higher Education, Rex Education, and Philippine Business for Social Progress.
The Enriched Virtual Mode of Learning
UST’s entry into the competition showcased its response to the need for remote instruction to take the place of onsite face-to-face classes due to the pandemic: the Enriched Virtual Mode (EVM) of instruction. Guided by the principles of dialogue, flexibility, and accessibility of learning, the EVM is being carried out through the UST Cloud Campus, the learning management system powered by Blackboard and run by the UST Educational Technology Center.
Enrichment of learning takes place in four modes: 1) team teaching by UST’s in-house experts; 2) remote engagement with the community partners; 3) engagement with industry experts; and 4) collaboration with partner institutions, especially those abroad. These four forms of enrichment complement the four dimensions of the SEAL of Thomasian education, UST’s graduate attributes.
A university-wide shift to virtual operations
UST’s entry likewise spoke of the various initiatives the community experienced as it shifted to virtual operations. The virtual offering of student support services, as well as the full transition to virtual operations for most of the offices were highlighted in the 10-minute video package UST submitted.
Capacity-building beyond España
In their messages to the public after winning the award, UST Rector fr. Richard G. Ang, O.P., PhD and Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs Cheryl R. Peralta, DrPH highlighted the University’s foresight to already adopt e-learning even before the pandemic. “We owe it to careful planning and being constantly forward-looking,” the Rector said in his message.
The officials expressed thanks to the award-giving bodies for the recognition and committed to roll out capacity-building programs to interested HEIs that may benefit from UST’s guidance on how to transition operations to a more flexible mode. “We will roll out capacity-building programs to fellow educators in the country…to share with you the lessons we have learned, the practices we have adopted, and the successes we have been blessed with through His unending grace,” said Peralta.
UST’s victory comes as the University celebrates its 410th anniversary and as it implements EVM for the second straight academic year.