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Students not ready for self-directed learning—EdTech director

Students “may not be really ready” for self-direction and learning independence without “prodding from the teachers,” the University’s Educational Technology Center (EdTech) director said yesterday, June 27.

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Screengrab from the Learning in Focus webinar

Students “may not be really ready” for self-direction and learning independence without “prodding from the teachers,” the University’s Educational Technology Center (EdTech) director said yesterday, June 26.

“With or without pandemic, no single tool really and no amount of technology would be the solution to all our instructional problems,” Asst. Prof. Anna Cherylle Ramos, president of Philippine e-Learning Society, said during a webinar about shifting from classroom to online term.

Virtual monitoring sessions and centralized e-learning support unit, according to Ramos, was provided by the University to the teachers for the implementation of an online learning system.

“For the context of the University of Santo Tomas that has been using online technology for almost 20 years since 2002, we had the edge of implementing our continuity plan for teaching and learning right away after the declaration of the lockdown,” she said.

Ramos mentioned that in a survey conducted by the University, 98-percent of the faculty and 94-percent of the students have no stable internet connection.

“Out of our survey, we were able to locate the students with no internet connection and with our partnership with major telecom companies who were able to deliver the devices and the pocket wifi devices, so that they are able to finish the semester,” she said.

“I guess for me, COVID-19 also provided some positive contribution because it has unleashed a revolution in our education,” Ramos said.

Challenges ‘more psychological’

The bigger challenge in taking the education online, according to De La Salle Lipa College of Information and Engineering Dean Jorge Bacobo, is more psychological than technical.

“Those [technological problems], we know what the solutions are,” Bacobo said. “It’s getting the people who are involved for example in our schools, teachers, parents, administrators, to adjust to a revolution that’s forced [on] us by pandemic.”

“It’s really the evolution of people and how they have to change their relationships with each other in order to address the new needs of a new normal,” he added.

Bacobo emphasized that the pandemic changing the whole world challenged more the relationship between the students and the teachers and between the teachers and their teaching platform.

“Teachers suddenly realized they’re not anymore the sages on the stages. They’re now set aside. They’re more like guides on the side…They are no longer the medium of instruction,” he said.

Bacobo explained that the digital infrastructure has become the new medium and the teacher’s “avatar” or representative.

Department of Education Undersecretary Nepo Malaluan also said that online learning is “a very potent tool.”

“When we talk about the learning continuity in this time of COVID and doing distance learning, online learning is only one of the modalities,” he said. 

“Our viewers and our parents and learners and the public and sometimes even policy makers equate distance learning with the online learning platform,” he added. 

Technological challenges of online learning, according to Malaluan, are the capacity of teachers in delivery of large-scale online learning, conversion of classroom-based learning resources to distance learning resources, and the cost of online learning to the students.

Ramos urged the students that despite the teachers being “converted into text,” students should be more understanding as the issue of bandwidth impedes the online availability of the teachers.

“Online technology or online instructions would just be one of the many things we can do to be able to deliver that content,” Ramos said. “[Students] must realize that while we are doing something like this, we still have your teaching presence.”

“The learning activities themselves and the step by step procedure being given by the teachers is in fact the teaching presence themselves. There should be that understanding on both parties,” she said.

The webinar, “Learning in Focus,” was organized by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Inq To be You, and INQUIRER.net.

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CSC welcomes interim officers

The University of Santo Tomas Central Student Council (UST-CSC) announced on Sunday, Sept. 13, the new set of interim officers in Central Board for the academic year (AY) 2020-2021.

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Photo courtesy of Hector Armando Sarion, Carl Christian Lumberio, and Montgomery Alexander Tan

The University of Santo Tomas Central Student Council (UST-CSC) announced on Sunday, Sept. 13, the new set of interim officers in the Central Board for the academic year (AY) 2020-2021.

CSC acknowledged three new faces in provisionally handling the position of the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, and Secretary-General.

On May 21, The University’s Commision on Elections postponed both local and central student council elections for the AY 2020-2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their resolution declared all non-graduating incumbent officers as interim officers until elections are rescheduled. 

Hector Armando Sarion from the College of Education Student Council was elected as the Interim Speaker, Carl Christian Lumberio from the College of Commerce and Business Administration Student Council as the Interim Deputy Speaker, and Montgomery Alexander Tan from the Accountancy Student Council as the Secretary-General.

In an interview with TomasinoWeb, Sarion said that one of the challenges he expects during his term as the Interim Speaker is the gap that online classes create for the Thomasian students.

“[I]t’s not just a matter of internet connectivity, but also the inclusivity and accommodation of the diverse learners in our university. It’s the main call that we leave no student left behind,” Sarion said.

Sarion also said that the new CSC will continue the projects concerning the University’s Student Code.

“[W]e would always do our very best on having updates from the officials and progress back from the past academic year wherein we had meetings concerning the students’ code,” Sarion stated.

In addressing the challenges of online classes, Lumberio said that the approach must be “get and about,” in which the officials would engage with the student body and take the time to assess issues and problems.

“The key lies in making a more conscious effort to be present, that there is someone who will be pertinacious in standing firm in upholding and protecting the rights and welfare of the whole Thomasian Community,” Lumberio told TomasinoWeb.

For Tan, prompt assistance to every student is one of his leadership agendas.

“One of my plans for our term is the ‘Students’ Help Desk.’ Based on my observation, a lot of students are having a hard time reaching the different UST offices for their urgent concerns,” Tan said.

According to Tan, he wants the students to feel his leadership despite the pandemic.

“It has always been my motto that ‘actions speak louder than words.’ I will not promise empty words but rather bring about results that will eventually benefit the whole community,” Tan said. “Therefore, I want the studentry to feel my leadership through my actions and results.”

Sarion, Lomberio, and Tan succeeded Lady Freyja Gascon, Lorenzo Gabriel Banayo, and Sean Matthew Sison respectively.

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Student organizations slam Pemberton pardon

Three University student organizations expressed their dissent over President Duterte’s Sept. 7 decision granting U.S Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton absolute pardon. 

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Carmina Beatriz Dizon/TomasinoWeb

Three University student organizations expressed their dissent over President Duterte’s Sept. 7 decision granting U.S Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton absolute pardon. 

“We strongly condemn the absolute pardon granted by the president as it is a clear depiction of the selective justice in the Philippines, which has little to no regard for human rights,” UST Hiraya’s Sept. 9 statement read. 

UST Hirayaさんの投稿 2020年9月9日水曜日

On Oct. 11, 2014 Jennifer Laude was found dead naked on the floor of a comfort room in Celzone Lodge. Her autopsy report indicated that she died due to “asphyxia by drowning.” 

Pemberton served less than six years in prison after being convicted of homicide in December 2015. He was originally sentenced to six to 12 years in prison which was reduced to 10 years in 2016. 

“Pemberton must be jailed in New Bilibid Prison to serve his rightful sentence,” League of Filipino Students (LFS) – UST said on Twitter.

Pemberton’s release was ordered by Judge Roline Ginez-Jabalde. She ruled that the American serviceman has served his maximum jail term with good conduct and time allowance credits. 

“No amount of good conduct will be enough to redeem Pemberton’s gruesome murder of Laude six years ago, and this act of cowardice by the administration screams injustice not only to the Laude family, but also to the LGBTQ+ community,” TomasinoWeb’s statement read. 

Both LFS – UST and TomasinoWeb echoed that Pemberton’s release is a “disregard towards basic human rights.”

A call for safe spaces

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According to Hiraya, Pemberton’s absolute pardon is a “repulsive manifestation” of the country’s disregard for human human and transgender rights. 

“[S]etting a murderer free would only reinforce the systemic discrimination and violence pervasive in our country,” Hiraya said. 

Hiraya highlighted the need for a strengthened law that will protect Filipinos from crimes and violence based on gender convictions. 

They also stressed that this is the “high time to champion” safe spaces for all through legislative and judiciary measures.

The government confirmed yesterday, Sept.11, that Pemberton was already undergoing the process of deportation to the United States. Jose Ama Rosario 

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SHS code of conduct bans recording of online classes

“Video or audio recording of the virtual activity using any type of gadgets or taking any screenshots, photos, audio of class activities without permission from participants is prohibited,” the conforme reads. 

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Gwen Dungao/TomasinoWeb

The Senior High School Department of the University released a Code of Conduct banning the sharing of video lectures without permission from the participants during online classes. 

“Video or audio recording of the virtual activity using any type of gadgets or taking any screenshots, photos, audio of class activities without permission from participants is prohibited,” the conforme reads. 

According to the memo, video recording of lectures may be done with the permission of the teacher for the sole purpose of learning, and such recording cannot be shared to students outside the class. 

The memo also forbids the students from publicly posting photos, videos, and audio recording of activities on social media without prior approval from all the participants. 

Last Sept. 2, a video circulating on social media showed a professor lecturing a student about rape and embracing her father as “a gift from God” despite raping and assaulting her. 

In separate incidents, a viral post also revealed a professor asking students why they enrolled when they’re having connectivity issues in the first place, while another one exposed a teacher berating a student due to delayed response

CSC backs complaints

Central Student Council President Robert Gonzales assured the Thomasian community on Sept. 3 that they are taking necessary steps to address and assist the issue of the circulating video online. 

To give an update, we (together with the class officers, local student councils, & societies) are currently taking action and assisting the involved sections in filing formal complaints,” Gonzales said on Twitter. 

He reminded everyone to be “prudent” in sharing materials online and that the best way to proceed in case such things happen is by filing formal complaints.

“I understand the frustrations brought upon by the different scenarios but let us also be prudent when it comes to posting/publicly sharing these videos so as to avoid repercussions on our end. It is still best for us to proceed with the proper avenues of filing complaints,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales urged both students and teachers alike that “extending compassion is a must when it comes to online classes.”

He also reiterated that student councils and department societies are ready to help on issues regarding online classes.

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