By: Manuel Rivera León
Philippine Women’s University (PWU) is the first private university for women in Asia founded by Asians. Founded in 1919, its goal was to prepare women to participate in building a new nation. Today, the University also accepts male students, but it has kept its name to honor its illustrious history.
The road to virtual education (e-learning)
When discussing e-learning in the Philippines, the following facts should be considered:
- Due to its geographical location, the country is often affected by natural disasters, such as floods, hurricanes and earthquakes.
- Internet connections are often slow.
- The government regulates e-learning policies.
PWU began implementing distance learning strategies in 1992 to support students and teachers who experienced difficulties with transportation when attempting to attend face-to-face classes. At that time, distance education was largely carried out through regular mail. In 2014, the Philippine government started implementing elearning policies. At PWU, the focus is on developing blended-learning strategies: face-to-face classes supported by online solutions such as Moodlerooms.
E-learning for students of all ages
PWU students start from the kindergarten level through elementary, high school and university levels. However, training in e-learning starts at the age of 9. Previously, students used computers only when learning basic computer skills. Dr. Francisco Benítez, President of PWU, stated “we want e-learning to be ever present in the lives of all our students”. Thus, students are introduced to cutting edge technological tools as they advance in their academic development and teachers are encouraged to implement “flipped classroom” techniques.
In addition, thanks to programs such as Moodlerooms, PWU’s educational model encourages collaboration and interactivity as integral to the academic processes. The University knows that both teachers and students require adequate training, because apart from providing them with technology, PWU must offer pedagogical training for the use of tools such as online classrooms, video conference, chat rooms, etc. A way to test the efficacy of these initiatives is through an assessment to determine the role technology plays in learning.
A new and promising path is now open to PWU in the e-learning world and currently there are approximately 2,000 faculty and students at all levels using these e-learning tools. PWU expects to double that number in the short term. PWU is investing in e-learning to strategically address major challenges in the region. The role of teachers is changing because students have easy access to so much information. Teachers are becoming facilitators of education, while students are being encouraged to develop the necessary skills at an early age that will help them process what they learn and ensure their professional success in the future.
*Dr. Francisco Benítez – President of Philippine Women’s University (PWU)
In the photo: Dr. Francisco Benítez