The current COVID pandemic situation has disrupted our normal routine and turned it into a series of trial and error. The seemingly hassle free grocery run that we typically did every pay day has turned into a gruesome 3-hour chore. The once suggested “Social Distancing” is now a usual part of our everyday lives. People are now turning into a new alternative – ONLINE TRANSACTIONS.
Transacting with establishments through various online platforms has existed for a long time, but has not been utilized much. The Enhanced Community Quarantine has pushed most of the people to utilize online platforms for groceries, medicines, and banking to a point where even long established online applications are having a hard time delivering their services. Infrastructures are constantly being improved because online service is now a way of life.
The work my team and I are currently involved in at School of Tomorrow®, Philippines has the potential of transitioning online. With the promotion of Remote Learning procedures, we are currently brainstorming the possibilities of leveling up our services to meet the basic requirements of our schools and home school families online. Before we make the jump, it is our desire that we move toward this shift along with our customers. We highly recommend that our schools and home school families consider the following items:
#1 INTERNET CONNECTION
This is the most obvious requirement on this list. Being online has evolved to being a necessity. I am not recommending a business type connection of 100mbps worth thousands of pesos every month (Though you can opt for this if you have the finances). A simple data connection, with at least 2mbps will be enough to access basic websites or connect with students through social media. It is now our job to make sure that our online presence is accessible to all our clientele.
Basic internet connections will also suffice to meet the requirement of our Remote Learning procedures for schools. I believe that the internet infrastructure of the country has improved over the years and will continue to improve.
#2 SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
Facebook, Instagram, twitter, and the like have served a greater purpose during these trying times. Platforms like these provide us with entertainment and information. Be warned, social media is like a double edged sword. Improper use may be harmful to us personally and also to the integrity of our institution. So, we encourage everyone to utilize social media with caution.
School of Tomorrow®, Philippines owes a lot of its increase in online popularity to social media. We started to promote our social media presence with the National Student Convention Facebook page back in 2013 before deciding that the organization should have its own Page. In a matter of months, the official Facebook page of School of Tomorrow®, Philippines reached over 10,000 likes. We did not have formal training in how to establish a successful Facebook page. Our strategy has remained the same since day one – Try our best to consistently reflect the heartbeat of the organization by promoting the uniqueness of our system and give encouragement by adhering to our core Biblical values. That is why, apart from posting about Learning Center helps or Blog posts about our system, we prioritize posting verses and encouraging everyone to pray for one another during the pandemic.
The School of Tomorrow®, Philippines’ Facebook page has grown organically, without any paid promotion, because people of faith are interested in learning more about an alternative mode of learning that is Bible based. Families are starting to invest in the learning of their children through schools and home schooling using our system. We need to start engaging with our parents through the most convenient way we know – Social Media. This way, we give them a type of assurance that learning never stops.
#3 ONLINE LEARNING TOOLS
This is different from Social Media platforms. The goal of these applications is to supplement learning by making online interactions tolerable and easy. I personally started using a specific free online platform in teaching a senior high class at the start of the enhanced community quarantine.
The platform I am using consists of various applications, from online documents to video streaming, that can be easily accessed via the web browser or through a downloaded app. I can personally say that it has made my online teaching easier. It allows me to create an exclusive controlled environment where I can throw all my lessons, videos, projects, assignments, and quizzes on one platform. The program also gives me the ability to upload a rubric so that it can automatically calculate the grades per activity. This is just one out of many platforms available in the market.
Search and explore various applications and make sure you conduct proper research on how it can supplement your process. I know of schools who use chat application as a learning tool because of their ability to screen share. The possibilities are endless, but still exercise caution. Always ensure that your privacy, and that of your students and institution, are protected.
#4 OFFICIAL ONLINE PRESENCE
This part can be deemed as “Optional”, but as the online world progresses, the need of establishing your online presence becomes imminent. I personally believe that websites are a form of investment. The longer you stay active in the online world, the more visible you become to potential students.
Developing and maintaining a website is time consuming. You have to be totally committed before starting a website. More than the programming skills, consistency in content creation must be a top priority. Your site should be comprehensive. Everyone viewing your website should come out informed and satisfied, not frustrated and confused. I will be writing a more detailed article on how we approached the redevelopment of our official website.
#5 ESTABLISHED GUIDELINES
One of the things I learned in my years of working in the ministry is the importance of establishing guidelines. Procedures are efficient only if guidelines are comprehensive. We have to make sure that we do not complicate the process by creating unrealistic guidelines. Always aim for the accomplishment of your objectives without compromising your core values and inconveniencing your students.
I understand that our current situation has made it impossible for us to function properly. That is why, we have been trying to provide you with recommendations on how to implement Remote Learning procedures. Take these recommendations and use them as a pattern for your guidelines. You can also reach out to us through our Facebook page if you have any questions. We are here to help you out in any way that we can.
We, at School of Tomorrow, Philippines, are looking into ways to provide you with innovations that would help assist you and your students to continue the learning process. The items mentioned above will also help us establish a much more comprehensive mode of information dissemination and, God willing, training capabilities.
A WORD OF CAUTION
I know that the online route is very promising and doable for most of our schools, but let me remind you that these tools should only aide in the implementation of the system and in no way replace it. The School of Tomorrow® system leans heavily on tactile learning and individualized interaction using the principles of the 5 LAWS OF LEARNING. So, even though most of the tangible non-negotiables of the system are inexistent through the Remote Learning process, the essence of the system should always be maintained – CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT AND ACADEMIC EXELLENCE.
Also, this transition is not a permanent solution. The remote learning initiative is to address the current situation we, as an educational institution, are facing because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The moment schools are permitted by government to physically open, then we should all transition back to our Learning Centers.