INNOTECH and my centennial presidency
“As I look back, I am grateful to SEAMEO INNOTECH for the contributions it has shared to my person, my career, and my outlook toward teaching and learning online.”
Just in the nick of time when I was about to say goodbye as the President of the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU), the institution was commemorating its centennial year. Luckily, while still serving at the helm of the University, it was also the celebration of the 50th year (golden anniversary) of SEAMEO INNOTECH. These two important events made me the University Centennial President and a Golden Flexible Learning Tutor (FLT) of SEAMEO INNOTECH.
My relationship with INNOTECH dates back to the time of the Learning and Technology Excellence in School Leadership for Southeast Asia (LEARNTECH eXCELS) Project. WMSU was invited to select faculty members to be trained using the flexible learning pedagogy and to eventually be included in the pool of online learning course facilitators. When the first flexible learning course was implemented in the Department of Education (DepEd) Region 9, INNOTECH requested for the use of WMSU facilities for the course orientation and the Revalida. This was the time when I was first invited to be one of the FLTs, together with another colleague to do flexible learning teaching for the 100 school heads from all over the region. This provided me the opportunity to be one of the longest–serving certified and accredited FLTs. During my engagement as FLT and focal person for DepEd Region 9, I was also serving as the Board Secretary of WMSU and was later designated as Vice President for Research, Development and Extension.
Being an FLT is a tough task because with the numerous assignments and chat sessions, the online learners have to be motivated to stay on to complete the course that requires sitting in front of a computer for three hours per week. This was coupled with intermittent internet connection and school-based written requirements that needed to be uploaded based on a certain schedule. Yet, the challenges created excitement and added determination to learn more. Some of the learning insights gained over the years are the following:
- We cannot be parochial in our approach to teaching. There is also no such thing as one–size–fits-all in teaching and learning for school leaders and teachers. Teaching and learning take place based on the pacing of the learners’ abilities and potentials and at the same time on the learning spaces that basically change as challenges continuously evolve.
- Due to disruptions in internet connection during facilitation of discussion for a group of learners, we need to have the ability to “reconnect” when they get disconnected.
- We always have to keep an open mind while facilitating to veer away from making uncalled–for judgment; it is important to listen and be just bias-free.
- We need to be mindful, understanding, and cognizant of diversity in culture and ethnicity.
- We need to be very familiar with 21st century literacies, specifically in applying Higher Order Thinking Skills, and in recognizing learners who have multiple intelligences which may require varying learning styles or use of pedagogy.
- We always need to be sensitive and more adept in responding to the learners’ concerns as their exposure varies from place to place and school to school.
Moving further, the engagement of WMSU during the Presidency of Dr. Grace Rebollos, contributed to the development of INNOTECH’s PEACeXCELS or Peace Education Excellence in School Leadership for Southeast Asia, another flexible learning course. Incidentally, we discovered later that the pilot implementation of the said course resulted to its inclusion in the South Korea-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding or UNESCO APCEIU’s Monograph of Best Practices in Education for International Understanding in 2011.
One of the best experiences I had as an FLT was the opportunity to participate in the “1st Capacity Building and Certification Course for FLTs of SEAMEO INNOTECH” held in Bangkok, Thailand. It was an exposure training that highlighted my career in facilitating. Aside from being informed on the latest approaches in online learning and serving as validator during the Revalida of the first offering of the Teaching and Learning Excellence in School Leadership for Southeast Asia or TEACHeXCELS, a flexible learning course in Thailand. I enjoyed the camaraderie with my fellow FLTs from the different Teacher Education Institutions in the Philippines and the initiatives SEAMEO INNOTECH provided for flexible learning.
As I look back, I am grateful to SEAMEO INNOTECH for the contributions it has shared to my person, my career, and my outlook toward teaching and learning online. SEAMEO INNOTECH also helped me understand the roles that I have to meet not only as a leader and an educator but also to perform my responsibilities leafing WMSU, the Mindanao Association of State Tertiary Schools, and other positions I held in the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges. The chat room is a vast learning space for adult learning to capture the essence of continuous learning. This new appreciation brought me the beautiful reality of how flexible learning breeds the new batch of 21st century facilitators. The centennial celebration of WMSU and the 50th year celebration of SEAMEO INNOTECH share the same significance: changing the landscape of teaching and learning to welcome the challenges of our time.