Students and teachers meet online in Ateneo de Davao

Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU) transitioned into online learning last April 22, when summer classes began. The University is “putting technology to good use” at a time when physical distancing is required, according to Dr. Christopher Ryan B. Maboloc. Maboloc is a Philosophy Professor.

College students numbering more than 1,700 connect to their classmates and teachers online. Safe in their own homes, they use video conferencing apps, such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Skype.

“These are ways that make interaction possible between students and teachers as well as among students,” Jeremy S. Eliab said. Eliab is ADDU‘s Executive Vice President.

Teachers guiding students
Apart from video classes with teachers, students learn their lessons from Powerpoint presentations and teacher-made and curated video clips. They download discussion notes and handouts for offline studying. Computers, tablets, or smartphones are essential tools.

“Teachers create learning content; students respond. Teachers inquire; students answer and inquire, too, to clarify concepts,” Hazel Meghan B. Hamile explained. Hamile teaches Philippine Popular Culture this summer.

“Everyone is settling down in a new platform where we still play the roles of mentor and mentee,” Hamile added. Learning continues in what Maboloc calls “a digital ecosystem.”

Teachers helping teachers
In the weeks following the declaration of a public health emergency, ADDU Computer Science (CS) professors and University Information Technology Office personnel met online several times to lay the groundwork for online education. Their task: to prepare teachers and students to make a leap of faith, to believe that education is doable, relevant, and necessary in a pandemic-stricken world.

“It helped very much that CS and other Departments had been using online platforms alongside in-person classes for many years,” Dr. Michelle P. Banawan said. Banawan is the Director of the Management Information Systems Office.

“We brainstormed ideas, made plans, and did short videos for other teachers who needed to migrate to Google Classrooms. We designed presentations to guide teachers to manage their online classrooms and Moodle sites and to put their teaching and learning content online—all to make it easier for students to access them and learn better,” Ma. Teresa Te-Quindoy said. Quindoy is the Director of the Information Technology Training Services Office (ITTSO).

“Packaging the learning material to be palpable for students is a creative challenge for teachers like me,” Hamile said.

“I hope students will value the freedom they have to think deeply about the learning material provided, to become more reflective not only about what they think but also how they think,” Hamile added.

“I also hope that they gain the discipline to create an amiable relationship with the self to be able to decide on things, such as the best time to study, and to converse with their classmates and teachers who are their guides. I wish the students both freedom and discipline,” Hamile said.

More than 100 ADDU college teachers are managing digital classrooms this April, right out of their living rooms and home offices.

Distributing wi-fi devices, tablets
Students and teachers who do not have a reliable internet connection have been provided with Home Prepaid Wifi (HPW) units. “Students get their units for free, and teachers receive an internet allowance,” Eliab revealed.

Further, ADDU distributed 155 tablets and digital pencils to scholars and financially challenged students this summer. “These devices were donated by Friends of the University,” University President Fr. Joel E. Tabora, SJ said.

An easy payment scheme is also in place for a computer loan for students and teachers. “Ateneo is also extending a computer loan to qualified students and teachers who want to acquire a laptop, desktop, or tablet for educational purposes. As of now, 181 students have applied for a computer loan,” Eliab said.

In dialogue with our students, in collaboration with the CHED and the DepED, we firmly believe that if we must stay at home to help preserve life, we must use the time at home productively. Staying at home is an opportunity for genuine academic growth so that precious time is not wasted but optimized for growth and formation,” Tabora added.

When classes begin for Academic Year 2020-2021, ADDU will be harnessing the power of technology again to “deliver the education it is committed to give based on its mission and vision as a Filipino, Catholic, and Jesuit University operating in and for Mindanao,” Tabora concluded.

While ADDU school campuses are closed, Google Classrooms and Moodle sites are humming with activity. ADDU teachers and students are on a steep learning curve, but they are adapting to a digital but still collaborative learning environment in this era of quarantine.