Monday, October 20, 2008

eSkwela ICT camp

I have always been interested in the use of information and communications technology (ICT) for teaching and learning. I have always believed in its potential to make learning more relevant, innovative, fun and exciting for learners.

I'm glad that through the eSkwela project I have been able to organize an activity where ICT can be used creatively and innovatively. It is somehow reminiscent of my old job, and of the activities that I used to do there. We're trying to do a similar activity, but in a much smaller scale. Nonetheless, I hope it will be as fun and exciting.

The eSkwela project targets the use of ICT for creating projects in the form of desktop publications, websites, videos, photo albums, etc. It is part of eSkwela's overall pedagogical approach of teaching and learning. At the ICT camp, participating learners and instructional managers from the eSkwela centers will be trained in the effective use of computers, the Internet and open source software as tools for learning, design and collaboration. At the ICT camp, participants will be studying e-Learning modules and deepen their learning through the creation of ICT-based projects.

For more information about the ICT camp, you may visit

For more information about the eSkwela project, you may visit

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Kwelang eSkwela in Bulacan

Located on the second floor of Muzon public market in San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan is a spacious, air-conditioned room, which, during weekdays, is filled with youths and adults. The room can pass off as a big internet cafe sans noisy multiplayer video game users for computer stations are all lined up against the wall. On the wall in front are pictures, news letter cutouts and a calendar, all these typical of a backside of a regular classroom. The room is, in fact, a classroom, catering up to 20 learners every day. It is not a computer class, though. Learners here learn about math, science, communication, and other topics offered by any regular school – using a computer.

Self paced learning

Forty eight year old Rodolfo Robo sits between two male young learners, both of whom can pass off as his children. After studying a module on food preparation – one of the many modules that can be easily accessed by learners on their computers - Robo answered a post test, probing what he learned after an hour or so of self-paced learning. Instructional manager Czarina Borromeo, seated on her own computer station, checks her learners’ tests, including Robo’s, after they finish. Borromeo then tells Robo how he’s faring in the test, as well as his errors, even in spelling.

Back to school

A tanod head, Robo decided to enroll in the said class to refresh what he has learned in school. As a barangay officer, Robo actually encourages out-of-school youths and adults in his commpunity to enroll in eSkwela. Robo said that it is never too late to finish one’s studies. His classmates Emily Mallari, 31, Flordeliza Dabuet, 36, and Sherilyn Guantero, 20, do agree. Mallari and Dabuet both dropped out of high school. Guantero, on the other hand, only finished fourth grade. For these women, even with marriage and children, enrolling in eSkwela can help them achieve their goals, such as obtaining a diploma, getting into college, and as simple as helping their school aged kids with their homeworks.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Jenelyn Baylon - Bato Balani Teacher Awardee

Jenelyn Baylon, an ALS implementer in Naujan, Mindoro Oriental, is one of the four recipients in this year's Bato Balani Foundation's "Many Faces of the Teacher" Awards. Jen is one of our ALS(60) Content Development Reviewers. She was also an active participant in the Trainers' Training for the eSkwela Teacher Training Course held early this year. She has become a staunch supporter of eSkwela in Mindoro Oriental, pushing for the project's implementation through local community support.

Congratulations Jen, from the the entire eSkwela family!

Excerpt from Bato Balani's blog:

"Jenelyn Baylon is a Mobile teacher from Naujan, Oriental Mindoro. She travels distances to reach her students and as with all mobile teachers, they handle multi-level and multi-grade students and classes."

Excerpt from (Eureka! article entitled "Teacher heroes get the accolade they deserve" by Queena Lee, posted 9/22/2008)

Motorcycle teacher

Following in the footsteps of Fr. Dinter is Jenelyn Baylon, who rides her motorcycle for hours (even when pregnant) to reach Mangyan communities. Fording mountains and streams, Baylon brings much-needed resources to the tribes, such as cell phones and modern tools.

She conducts night sessions on basic and functional literacy for out-of-school youths and adult learners. She trains them on cell phone repair, electric arc welding, recycling. She initiated the Barangay Solid Waste Management Council and Materials Recovery Facilities for the Mangyans.

Baylon’s goal is to help the Mangyans raise their heads high. She discusses with them the Indigenous People’s Rights Act, and teaches them to be proud of their heritage.

Excerpt from GMANews.TV ("Four 'Faces' of teaching honored in Pasay Cityby Mark Meruenas, posted 9/28/2008):

Mobile teacher

Passion and commitment are the exact same reasons why “mobile teacher" Jenelyn Baylon, the first awardee, is staying on the profession, despite having to brave rugged roads on a motorcycle in her native Mindoro just to hold house-to-house class sessions.

Iyong mga kabataan na hindi na tinatanggap sa loob ng paaralan, iyon ang minamahal namin," said Baylon, whose “Alternative Learning System" curriculum ranges from solid waste management to the Indigenous Human Rights Act.

(Those out-of-school youths are dear to us.)

Being the youngest among this year’s awardees, Baylon, named at the event as “The Face of Patience," told GMANews.TV she was surprised she even got selected as a nominee, much less an honoree.

Kanina, noong tinawag ako sa taas. Parang totoo ba ito? Eh maraming napakatanda na dapat sila muna (When they called me out on stage, I couldn’t believe it. I am so young and there are veteran teachers who are more deserving)," Baylon said.

However, she said she would use her recognition to encourage other “mobile teachers" to forgo plans to leave the profession.

So much is her dedication to work that even her pregnancy did not deter Baylon, a mother of one, from extending education to out-of-school youths.

Hindi na sila tambay. Ngayon may iba sa kanila, nasa abroad na. Buhay at pagkatao ang aming naaayos (They are no longer idle. Some of them went abroad. We are helping them put their lives and well-being in order)," Baylon proudly said.

Raising Awareness for the eSkwela Project

Raising Awareness on eLearning

Actual Experience: eSkwela Project, Philippines

Contribution of Maria Melizza “Mel” Tan (eSkwela Project Manager)

to the eLDI 2008 November eJounrnal

The eSkwela Project aims to provide eLearning opportunities to Filipino out-of-school youth and adults who would like to finish their basic education. It is a flagship project of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT), in partnership with the Department of Education’s Bureau of Alternative Learning System (DepEd-BALS).

The project covers various components including community-based center set-up and sustainability through community partnership, content and applications development, technical support, personnel training (for operations and instruction), and regular monitoring and evaluation. Starting out with four (4) pilot sites in major urban centers in early 2007, the project is currently on its rollout phase – slowly but surely gaining the desired attention and support from various stakeholders.

Raising public awareness for the project has not been easy, especially since the main focus of ICT in Education initiatives in the country has been on formal education, specifically public high schools. As such, the project team saw the need to ensure that the pilot run had a high probability of success by putting in place the following contributory factors:

  • A good project design that used a multi-stakeholder collaborative approach

Selling this project to implementers and sponsors required that it had a sound design that looked into feasibility and sustainability as well. For this kind of community-based initiatives to succeed, it was also important to continually collaborate with various community stakeholders including the local government unit, the local education implementers, and related civic groups.

  • Strong project champions

No matter how good a project design is, it would never fly if there are no advocates who will champion it to the stakeholders and the general public. For the eSkwela Project, CICT’s strategic leadership and dedicated project team, coupled with the strong support from DepEd-BALS, were crucial in convincing community stakeholders to invest on the project.

  • Well-trained and empowered implementers

The eSkwela Project continues to rely on the centers’ field implementers for its successful execution. They have undergone training on the ICT-based instructional model that serves as the core component of the project. Since they serve as the frontliners, they have been encouraged to research, experiment, recommend, and train others on potential project enhancements. This sense of local ownership contributes to their dedication to reflective project enhancement and sustainability.

With these factors in place, the project team has undertaken the following activities to raise and sustain project awareness:

  • Social Marketing activities

The project team conducts several meetings and presentations that target community awareness and stakeholders’ mobilization where discussions focus on the project implementation details, roles/responsibilities of stakeholders, handholding requirements, and other pertinent items. Stakeholders appreciate the fact that immediate and future benefits are enumerated, especially learner pathing beyond eSkwela – such as readiness for the Accreditation and Equivalency Exam, tie-up with local livelihood training centers, among others.

The team also recognizes the need to “walk the talk” by using ICTs to reach out to the public via the project wiki (, discussion forums, blogs, emails, video campaigns, and other communication/ collaboration tools; by engaging in and conducting various ICT4E initiatives like conferences, various elearning courses, and similar efforts geared toward further enhancing the project.

  • Regular conduct of monitoring and evaluation activities

The team makes it a point to provide regular presence in the sites through site visits and constant communication aimed at continuous and timely project enhancement. Through such activities, field implementers see that the team is indeed serious about making things work and that the project is not a “fly-by-night” operation. This deepens the level of awareness and understanding of the project for both the team and the local stakeholders –“making them believe” in the project and consequently, take pride in as well as promote the project to their communities.

  • Activities that value collaboration among project partners

Field implementers and other project stakeholders (i.e. DepEd-BALS, local government units, civic groups, ICT4E consultants, and content development teams that CICT has contracted) are regularly invited to get involved in efforts that look into project enhancements and sustainability. This is done through the conduct of project conferences and workshops that either a) ask them to provide feedback/insights to project plans and tools, b) train them on required competencies, or c) guide them through project evaluation and strategic planning.

This sense of belongingness in the project community propels these stakeholders to promote the project to other groups – professionals, students, potential sponsors – through the talks, presentations, and meetings that they attend thus providing the project additional mileage.

As can be seen, a project can attain the desired level of awareness and support by taking care of the network of advocates, implementers, and stakeholders that is built in the course of a project’s life. With this in place, a project has greater chances for success and prolonged sustainability.