Liset and I participated in the Basic Training Course on Alternative Learning System (ALS) for Instructional Managers (IM). We did this so that we can further understand the ALS curriculum and its approach to teaching and learning. It is important that we truly understand ALS so that our trainings in eSkwela will really be in accordance to the ALS approach with the application of information and communications technologies (ICT). I believe this is the first time that staff from eSkwela has undergone an ALS training. Prior to the training, all we know about ALS is confined in what we read in the published materials from DepED as well as stories and anecdotes from various eSkwela and ALS implementers. Now at least through this training we gained a better understanding of what the ALS approach is, as well as the duties and responsibilities of an ALS IM.
- Activity – Through a learning activity, learners experience and acquire new knowledge and skills.
- Analysis – Learners need time to process or analyze their experiences. New knowledge and skills have to be linked to what they already know and can do.
- Abstraction – Through processing and analyzing their new experiences and linking them with existing experiences, learners begin to demonstrate new understandings and apply new skills through generalization or abstraction.
- Application – Through application, learners try out new skills and learning.
This is an essential approach because the learners that come to the ALS programs are adults and they bring a wealth of experience, which, when tapped properly, can make learning effective for them. The training design for the instructional managers also applied the same principles.
We found that the teaching and learning in ALS is very flexible. There are a number of learning strategies that can be applies such as structured learning sessions, tutorials, group study, etc. The DepED Bureau of Alternative Learning System also make use of a number of instructional materials. There are print modules, audio based instruction, and the eSkwela e-Learning modules.
One of the highlights of this training is the community immersion where participants went house to house in Barangay Singalong in order to do a survey of out of school youth and adults. Here we found that we have an alarming literacy problem. In about an hour of house to house visits on a rainy summer afternoon, we found more than 40 out of school youth and adults who have not finished basic education. In every house that we went there are about 2 members of the residents who have school aged children that are out of school, or adults who have not completed basic education. Among the reasons for dropping out of school was because of peer pressure and lack of financial resources. We see that there is really a need for a program like ALS and eSkwela in order to be able to bring education especially to the underserved. After all, education is a fundamental human right (UNESCO).
Another highlight of the training was the demonstration teaching of two of the participants. Both of them prepared interesting teaching materials and learning activities that apply the principles of adult learning.
Another significant highlight of the training was the role playing activity on counseling. Counseling is seen as a very important role that an ALS IM will play as part of his/her responsibility. Counseling is helpful during the recruitment and enrollment of learners, identification of learning needs, during the conduct of actual learning sessions, evaluation of learning and after completing the Accreditation and Equivalency Exam.
The training concluded with the awarding of certificates to the participants and the awarding of tokens to our trainers from the Department of Education National Capital Region, namely Dr. Virginia Silvestre, ALS NCR Chief, Dr. Felicino Trongco, ALS NCR Assistant Chief, Dr. Baltazar Gayem, ALS Supervisor of DepED-Valenzuela City and Dr. Diosdado Medina, ALS Supervisor of DepED-Muntinlupa City.