Philippine Women’s University is the first private university for women in Asia founded by Asians. Established in 1919, its goal was to prepare women to participate in the building of a new nation. Today, the university also accepts male students, but it has kept its name to honor its roots.
The Road to Virtual Education
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 connection is often slow.
- The government regulates e-learning policies.
Philippine Women’s University (PWU) began implementing distance learning strategies in 1992, to support students and teachers who experienced difficulties commuting 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 e-learning policies. At PWU, the focus is on developing blended-learning strategies: face-to-face classes supported by online solutions such as Blackboard Open LMS.
E-learning for Students of All Ages
Students at PWU start from kindergarten through to elementary, high school and into university. However, they are first exposed to e-learning at the age of 9. Before that, students only used computers 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 Blackboard Open LMS, PWU’s educational model encourages collaboration and interactivity as an integral part of the academic process. 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, and chat rooms, among others. A way to test the efficacy of these initiatives is through assessment, in order to determine the role technology plays in learning.
A new and promising path in the e-learning world is now open to PWU. Currently, there are approximately 2,000 faculty and students using these e-learning tools and PWU expects to double that number in the short term. The university is investing in e-learning to strategically address major challenges in the region and also due to the changing role of teachers, as students have easy access to so much information, teachers are becoming facilitators of education. Students on the other hand are being encouraged from an early age to develop the necessary skills that will help them process the information they learn and ensure their professional success in the future.
* Dr. Francisco Benítez – President of Philippine Women’s University (PWU).