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PSD embraces distance learning as new academic year kicks off

PSD embraces distance learning
as new academic year kicks off

Ailyn Agonia
DOHA
The Philippine School Doha (PSD) welcomed more than 3,000 students to a new school year early this week.
Given the prevailing health crisis, the return to school for the Filipino students was nothing like before. The students started a fresh school year remotely, an experience new to all but one that the PSD community -- faculty members, students and parents -- is keen to embrace to ensure the uninterrupted education of the students as the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.
“The goal of PSD is to foster students who are proficient in doing innovative things. We want to instil to every PSDian that education is the most formidable weapon that they can use to change the world even if it’s done virtually. Through this remote learning, every child would have an education that would introduce it properly into a realm without further expense to anybody. The delivery modes of PSD comprised virtual learning and the use of instructional e-modules containing various reading materials, exercises and tasks that students can work on in their homes. The school believes that the new technology would enable more students to overcome the usual barriers to education,” PSD Principal Dr Alexander Acosta told Qatar Tribune.
Acosta said with the competent and qualified educators at PSD, the school assures to produce different practical activities for kinesthetic learners who favour a more hands-on type of scheme than just listening to lectures.
He said the school will provide numerous electronic instructional modules for each grade level and each subject area every week.
“Everyone must make a rigorous determination to ensure that children are not deprived of their fundamental right to education and protected at the same time. The PSD’s School Management reiterates its dedication to cultivating a comprehensive learning continuity plan to address challenges through the essential tunings in the curriculum alignment of learning materials and pertinent support to teachers, students and parents,” said Acosta.
Eleven-year-old Timothy Jeremiah Rivera, a seventh grader at PSD, described the new learning setup as fun and interesting experience so far.
On school days, he would wake up at 6am instead of 4:49am when there is a need to physically travel to the campus. By 6:30am, he should be in his school uniform, a policy of PSD despite the new distance learning setup, and by 6:50am, he has to be comfortably settled in front of his laptop and logged in to the PSD e-desk where the lessons and modules for the day can be accessed and where sharing of ideas and interactions between teachers and students among classmates happen.
“The new normal learning at home is fun. It is interesting and it is easier for us to study and feels comfortable. Also, at least, we don’t need to wake up so early. However, learning might not still be as great as the actual physical classroom in the long run,” Timothy Jeremiah fondly shared.
His brother Timothy Elijah, a sixth grader, starts his day at 10am and has to be virtually present in his class by 11:50am. Just like his elder brother, Timothy Elijah also finds distance learning so far as an interesting way of engaging with his classmates. Among the perks of remote learning, he mentioned, was doing less writing as all lessons are downloaded and communicating animatedly with his classmates through chat groups without being marked noisy as it would be in a traditional classroom setting.
But for another seventh grader PSD student Kristiana Louriane Macasa, the newness of the experience makes her long for the face-to-face interaction on the campus.
She said while she appreciates the comfort of being home while avoiding the hassle of waking up early and the daily grind of travelling to school, she still missed the school environment.
“Going to school is not only about learning math and science, but developing my socio-emotional skills, interacting with my colleagues and learning more about how to contribute to society as a citizen,” said Kristiana.
On the part of the parents, Joseph Rivera stressed their important role as their children navigate through distance learning.
He said, “I see this change as something mandatory and not just an option given these challenging times. Although PSD’s online learning platform has a dedicated teacher-student ratio per section with more synchronous than asynchronous learning sessions which is better than conventional self-study modes of regular homeschooling, dedicated parental attention in guiding our kids even at least for the first two weeks of their classes is still imperative.”
Another parent Dr Gerry Macasa Jr highlighted the critical importance of active involvement of parents in the education of their children in these unprecedented times.
“The biggest challenge is understanding how to reduce the negative impact this pandemic has brought to our children as much as possible. Parents need to be involved more than ever in our children’s education process and this includes improving our digital expertise. I do also trust the PSD school management, being our closest ally to the education welfare of our children. I believe they have prepared and installed an education and support systems to cope with this crisis with a better understanding and sense of urgency of closing the gap brought by this pandemic and ensure that our children will continue to enjoy the best quality of education,” he said.

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