The College of Education of the Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) led by Dean Amelia T. Buan conducted a virtual training program for InFlex peer facilitators from 8 January to 29 February 2021, as part of its Better Universities & Knowledge for All (BUKA) project. The objective of the training was to capacitate peer mentors from the different departments of the College in providing support for faculty in the implementation of the Innovative Flexible Learning (InFLeX) modality.
Noting that the way to capacitate teachers is by establishing a community of learning, Dean Buan challenged Mr. JoneiI Medina and Ms. Rica Mae Guarin, faculty members of the Department of Science and Mathematics Education who completed the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) Training of Teacher Trainers on Flexible Learning Modality in October 2020, to design a training program for faculty anchored on the MSU-IIT context. Mr. Medina and Ms. Guarin proposed a specialized training for the development of skills in engaging and motivating students in an online and flexible learning environment, maintaining the integrity of assessment, and establishing learning communities among students. The hybrid training consisted of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, with international speakers in the synchronous webinar sessions and local trainers facilitating the asynchronous activities.
Dr. Hanna Teräs, principal lecturer at Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Finland, gave the lecture on keeping learners engaged and motivated in InFleX modality on 19 January 2021. She highlighted the importance of utilizing learning or pedagogical design in online flexible teaching to engage students and keep them motivated. She also underscored the importance of objectively considering what the learner can achieve and accomplish instead of blaming either the teachers or the students for poor performance.
Dr. Engr. wim Van Petegem, a professor at the Katholieke Universiteit (KU) Leuven in Belgium, gave the lecture on maintaining the integrity of assessment in an online and flexible learning modality on 29 January 2021. One of the key messages of the lecture is the need for teachers to be creative in designing assessment tasks that would encourage critical thinking and discourage mere knowledge recall. It was also emphasized that assessment should be geared towards the development of 21st century skills that would capacitate students to be ready for future work demands.
Prof. Charisse Reyes, a faculty member at the UPOU Faculty of Education who is currently doing her PhD studies at Monash University, Australia, lectured on student support and learning communities. She noted the need for a well defined and well disseminated student support framework to minimize dropout rates among distance online learners. She presented various theories on student engagement and emphasized some key areas of student support, namely, academic support, technical scaffolding, providing support for health and well-being, and providing a sense of community.
Running alongside the lectures were asynchronous activities where the participants were guided in reviewing their course syllabi and revising their teaching and learning activities to make them more engaging, improving their course assessment plan, and adopting student support mechanisms. The group sharing, department mentoring, and peer presentations culminated in the graduation of the first batch of trainees in the InFleX Peer Facilitators Training Program on 13 March 2021. According to Dr. Buan, this pioneering group is expected to continually reflect on their own professional practice and share what they learned with their colleagues through department-based capacity building training. They are expected to help achieve the vision of the MSU-IIT College of Education to be a capable provider of fully online and distance learning courses by 2023, in line with the MSU-IIT’s mandate to provide quality education for the development of Mindanao and the country through relevant programs in instruction, research, and community engagement.