A continuum of change
Fina Felisa Alcudia
“The SEAMEO INNOTECH staff has become like family —warm, friendly, and welcoming. I hold them in high regard for their professionalism and work ethic.“
A big brother — that is what SEAMEO INNOTECH has always been like to us at West Visayas State University (WVSU). In 2013, when the online learning modality was gaining ground, the Center provided us with technical assistance to set up the portal for the WVSU Distance Education Program, of which I was assigned as Assistant Director. We take special pride in the fact that INNOTECH equipped us with the necessary know-how through several Capacity Building Workshops for Online Tutors.
I then became a Flexible Learning Tutor (FLT) for the Center’s courses, GURO21 or Gearing Up Responsible and Outstanding Teachers in Southeast Asia for the 21st Century, as well as TEACHeXCELS or Teaching and Learning Excellence in School Leadership for Southeast Asia. Being an online tutor was not new to me; I had already been facilitating online courses in our distance learning courses. However, I still had some apprehensions. I am from the academe and have only had two years of experience in the secondary public school before joining WVSU. Still, being invited as an FLT by an international organization meant earning the trust and confidence of INNOTECH. I also saw it as an opportunity to learn new systems and best practices in online learning.
As an FLT, I am able to connect with my learners. Initially, they are overwhelmed with technology as most of them are first-timers. But then appreciation and exploration will follow. Through this course, most of the learners are encouraged to embrace learning again, try out new methods, and enhance their skills. The SEAMEO courses give opportunities for teacher development especially to those who are assigned in remote schools. The courses also open teachers’ perspectives on culture and education across Southeast Asia. The kind of teachers that we need are those who are open to new ways of doing things, adaptable and resilient, and equipped to face any group of learners. They would sometimes complain about the things that their school lacks, but my stern rebuttal would always be: “What can you do?”
I think what I effectively factor in in our online discussions is leading the learners into reflective, critical, and strategic thinking that will work in their respective teaching environments and contexts. I am relentless in probing and drawing out answers and clarifications from the learners.
Being an FLT made me a relentless learner as well — my online learners may not know it, but it is I who immensely learn from the sharing of experiences. I am able to relate the insights from our discussions to the teacher training courses in the College of Education. I am in a “virtual” immersion in the teaching-learning conditions of the Department of Education schools and in the educational system of our country.
Apart from interaction with learners from different regions, I meet new friends as an FLT, and these friends are an interesting mix! There are Regional Directors, Supervisors, retirees who are keen and active, fellow academicians from government and private institutions, Heads, and Presidents. The SEAMEO INNOTECH staff has become like family — warm, friendly, and welcoming. I hold them in high regard for their professionalism and work ethic. Each FLT Training Course is always an occasion to look forward to. I am enriched in my personal and professional endeavors in this continuum of change and development that I gain from being an FLT.