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MU to offer two learning modes for A.Y. 2021 –2022

Article by: Goven M. Barrera, Kandhalvi M. Asaali, and Therese Anne B. Cruz

Graphics by: Clark Vincent P. Constantino

Last April 26, moving forward amidst the new normal, Mapúa University (MU) announced that the learning delivery will remain fully online for the first term and first semester for both college and Senior High School (SHS) students, respectively, for A.Y. 2021 – 2022.

On the other hand, plans are still underway for blended learning setup in the succeeding terms as face-to-face guidelines from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), the Department of Education (DepEd), and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) are yet to be released.

In an interview with Mapúa University President and CEO Dr. Reynaldo B. Vea last June 11, he stated that the mode of learning will depend on regulations made by CHED and the IATFEID.

“We assume fully online [classes] until we get advice from CHED and the IATF [on] when they will allow limited face-to-face [classes] … that is what we're looking at for our school year 2021 – 2022,” he said.

For the upcoming school year, students will have two options for the delivery of classes – digital choice or blended learning. For the digital choice, synchronous and asynchronous sessions will be conducted fully online whereas blended learning will combine face-to-face and online classes.

Strengthening online delivery

With fully online classes still ongoing, Dr. Vea mentioned plans to maximize the functionalities of the University’s learning management system, Cardinal EDGE, and integrate Coursera and LinkedIn into its courses.

" [This is] so that the students may acquire 21st century skills that are needed by industry, be in Data Science, Project Management, and Internet of Things, all these skills needed by the industry of today, that is incorporated now into our courses,” he remarked.

The Mapúa President and CEO also shared the changes made to the current mode of delivery, such as subscribing to large electronic databases for educational materials including Wiley, Cengage, and McGraw-Hill.

Furthermore, he mentioned the addition of artificial intelligence to the University’s online learning materials. “We have also deployed artificial intelligence in some of the basic courses called Aleks, [by] McGrawHill, where it learns how best to guide students in navigation of the different topics in a particular course,” Dr. Vea explained.

While the setup for the digital choice will remain the same, the administration still plans to improve the design of instruction for the option. According to Dr. Vea, several officers and faculty members of the University have enrolled in an edX course for a MicroMasters degree on instructional design. This endeavor to study more effective materials and develop better setups for a wide range of academic settings will become the theoretical foundation of Mapúa’s online learning delivery

Anticipating blended learning

With the possibility of a more lenient pandemic-related protocol, plans for blended learning after the first term of A.Y. 2021-2022 are being set in place.

Dr. Vea explained that the system for blended learning will be a four-plus-ten scheme where there will be four days of face-to-face classes and ten days of fully online classes for half of a class. Alternately, there will be ten days of face-to-face classes and four days of online classes for the other half. Every two weeks, these two groups of students will shift modes to follow the pattern of a 14-day quarantine. This setup will allow time for the students and staffs to observe possible indications of symptoms within the said period.

Moreover, he mentioned that laboratory courses will be the priority for blended learning, as these courses cannot be conducted online effectively. With no one course important than the other, regulations and procedures on how laboratory courses will be scheduled for blended learning are yet to be discussed.

For face-to-face classes, the University promise to comply with the health and safety regulations from CHED, IATF-EID, Department of Health, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Trade and Industry, and by local government units. Students and employees of the University will be required to wear personal protective equipment, observe proper hygiene, and maintain social distancing of at least 1.5 meters apart. Good ventilation and regular sanitation of the campus will also be observed.

“... as best as we can do it, health and safety will be the primary concern of the arrangements we're going to make,” the Mapúa President and CEO emphasized.

Additionally, immunization of employees, dependents, and faculty members of the University are already in place as they are currently waiting for the vaccines to arrive. Meanwhile, the administration also considers student vaccination, but a plan is still yet to be finalized.

With regards to on-site graduation, Dr. Vea mentioned the possibility of having local graduation ceremonies per school or department instead. This will also be subject to the  vaccination status of graduation attendees and the feasibility of proper physical distancing during the event.

Increase in fees

Following the consultation meeting about the increase in the tuition, laboratory, and miscellaneous fees for college and SHS students last January 22, Vice President and Assistant Treasurer Marina B. Bayag said that the proposal is still awaiting approval from CHED as of June 10. The proposed across-the-board increase is 1.25%.

However, with the recently announced choice of blended learning for students, further changes in the proposed tuition fee increase are to be expected.

Moving past the pandemic

In accordance with CHED’s statement on maintaining flexible learning in the succeeding years, Dr. Vea reassures that the University is complying with their protocols. He added that Mapúa University and Malayan Colleges Laguna are the only schools the commission deemed eligible to offer fully online courses. For MU, programs such as Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Electronics Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Information Technology, and Computer Science are permitted by CHED to be conducted fully online even beyond the pandemic.

With this, geographically challenged students, working students, and those physically handicapped may opt to go fully online with Mapúa. “There's no limit to the convenience of having an online platform. So that is what is going to happen, even beyond the pandemic,” Dr. Vea remarked.

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