Distance learning gets a boost with Google’s initiatives

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    THE education sector has been held hostage by the pandemic, shutting down schools and universities, putting in its place online distance learning.

    The difficulties of online learning partly comes from hardware and software, including training of both students in teachers to be able to make the most use of the platform. Tech giant Google has initiated projects and programs to support inclusive distance learning in the Philippines and help teachers and students.

    The lineup of local initiatives include a Google.org grant of $250,000 to INCO and Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC) to equip teachers to deliver distance learning, using two teaching modes–online and printed modules supported by SMS and regular consultations; a national deployment of G Suite for Education for students in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd); mobile accessibility to learning tools such as–G Suite for Education, Search, and YouTube–for students in collaboration with Globe and Smart; and EduCreator Camp, a virtual training camp which aims to empower Filipino YouTube education creators with the equipment and best practice resources to further develop their channel and content.

    “Google is committed to supporting inclusive distance learning in the country. We are delivering on this goal through our technology and support of nonprofits through the Google.org grant, which aims to build the capacity of educators to provide remote learning online and for students who don’t have access to the internet and modern devices.  We are grateful to our partners across the public and private sectors and we will continue to work closely with them to bring education within reach for as many Filipinos as possible,” said Bernadette Nacario, Country Director, Google Philippines.

    Among those present in the online launch even was Secretary of the Department of Education Leonor Briones; Dean Ramon Tuazon, President of the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication; Apolo-de Jesus, Senior Program Manager for Google for Education; Gabby Roxas, Google Philippines Marketing Head and Principal Angelo Armas, Sto. Niño High School Teacher Winnie Diola, De La Salle Santiago Zobel who both presented use cases for Google software and services.

    “Education is important and we are joining hands with different organizations to find ways for our youth to continue learning amid the pandemic, while ensuring the safety of our teachers and students. We appreciate Google’s efforts in helping educators, families, and students navigate distance learning, which covers online and other modes of education, through their technology, programs, and partnerships,” Briones said, adding that education is a priority of the present administration.

    Equipping teachers to deliver inclusive distance learning

    Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google, launched The Distance Learning Fund–a global initiative to help several countries design a transition plan for remote learning. The partnership with INCO and AIJC will design a capacity building program that will enable educators to deliver distance learning in two modes–online and through the production and distribution of printed modules supported by SMS and regular consultations. This is for students who have no access to modern devices and the Internet for inclusive learning.

    For the pilot, AIJC plans to train at least 250 public high school teachers on key areas such as: Philosophy of Learning in a Distance Learning Setting; Crafting the Curriculum Guide/Syllabus; Pedagogies in Distance Learning; Planning, Production, and Selection of Digital and Printed Teaching-Learning Materials; and Learners’ Assessment and Grading. After the training, the same high school teachers will receive coaching sessions with distance learning experts.

    The training program is also being provided to 30 head teachers and education supervisors, focused on the following lessons: Monitoring and Evaluation of Teachers in a Distance Learning Setting; Evaluation and Selection of Digital Teaching-Learning; Materials Produced and Curated/Accessed Online by Teachers; and Individual and Peer Group Coaching of Teachers in a Distance Learning Setting.

    National deployment of G Suite for Education

    Google Philippines and DepEd are working closely together to help at least 22 million students enrolled in public schools to make the transition to distance learning using G Suite for Education.

    G Suite for Education is a set of free productivity tools built for teaching and learning which includes Hangouts (for video and voice conferencing), Gmail, Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms, and Google Classroom. While G Suite for Education is free, Google will be investing time, training, and tech expertise for the success of the said deployment.

    Together with the National Educators Academy of the Philippines, Google and DepEd will be training regional IT officers to become Google Certified Trainers and Admins to manage and distribute the accounts to the students. School heads will also be trained to fully equip them to lead digital transformation in their institutions.

    Google is initially providing 5,000 units of vouchers of Google Education Certification for teachers for free. There are two levels of certification–Level 1 and Level 2. The first is for teachers to demonstrate proficiency to use technology in the classroom in an effective manner and costs $10 (P490). The second, Level 2, is for teachers who are really redefining their practice using technology and costs $25 (P1,225).

    Accessibility of learning tools to more students through working with telcos

    Google has launched resources that can help educators, students, and families. One is the Teach from Anywhere, a website available in English and Tagalog that features tips, materials and other useful resources for distance learning. The site also hosts tips for parents on keeping their children safe online.

    As access to learning tools is key in online learning, Google collaborated with the country’s telcos Globe Telecom and Smart Communications, Inc. to introduce prepaid mobile data packs to make some of the learning tools like G Suite for Education, YouTube, and Search much more accessible to students. These prepaid mobile data packs specifically built for e-learning start at Php10-11 for 1GB/day, making them the most affordable and comprehensive prepaid mobile data offering of Google products to date.

    EduCreator Camp – Philippines

    YouTube and creators play an important role in online learning. As a response to further develop the YouTube learning ecosystem in the country, Google presented the EduCreator Camp. It is a week-long virtual training camp aimed at accelerating the growth of learning content on YouTube and empower creators with more resources, mentorship, and a chance to network with other creators across the country for learning and community building.

    They will also receive production techniques and best practices from leading YouTube creators such as Team Lyqa and Numberbender and industry experts that will help them to develop high quality content on a wide variety of topics.

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