On 18 August 2022, educators around the globe converged virtually for the Asia Pacific Instructure Conference 2022. It was hosted by Instructure, an educational technology company headquartered in Utah, United States and the developer of world-renowned web-based learning management system (LMS) Canvas which is utilized by the leading universities around the globe. Our Lady of Fatima University (OLFU) is a subscriber to Canvas and the software has been a game-changer as the University optimized the said LMS in navigating the huge wave of change in the Philippine educational landscape brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
OLFU’s immense success in integrating the Canvas LMS into its teaching and learning processes encouraged Instructure to showcase the University’s insights, experiences, and strategies. For this, they invited OLFU key players to speak at the international conference, namely: Dr. Caroline Marian Enriquez, President; Dr. Michael Joseph Dino, Research Development and Innovation Center Director, and Marissa Chua, ELITE (EdTech) Director.
Bannered “Leveraging Students’ Learning via Smart Classes for Authentic Learning Experience (S.C.A.L.E.) HyFlex Model”, the segment highlighted the innovative approach OLFU had undertaken to incorporate Canvas into the government-recognized and accredited HyFlex concept which mainly features the Smart Classroom— a “power tool” of sorts in championing on- and off-campus learning in higher education.
As a presentation opener, Dr. Enriquez narrated the Philippine situation at the onset of the pandemic and how OLFU methodically created the strategies to circumvent the challenges. She discussed how the OLFU model centers on 3P’s: people, process, and product. The 3 P’s are comprised of nine sub-areas that came to be known as the TLC’s. Under People, there are the Teachers, Learners, and Collaborators. Under Process, there are Teaching, Learning, and Communication. And under Product, there are Technology, Location, and Context. Essentially, these were the “buttons pushed” to mitigate the stifling effects of COVID-19 on education. Additionally, Dr. Enriquez underscored the critical role of data and research played in the way OLFU gained insights into their students’ use/ownership of tech gadgets, their internet use, and even their financial capacity for internet-related expenses. Teaching, learning, and assessment plans were tailor-fitted to these findings.
Speaking about actualizing the model was Marissa Chua. She elaborated on the initial birthing of “Go, FLEX!”, an acronym for the Fatima Learning Experience in OLFU, as well as for Flexible Learning in a national perspective. She described the various approaches of directive, supportive, and interactive and how each targets the multi-pronged interactions between Teacher-Learner-Content. Revealing OLFU’s locally-developed Smart Classroom, Chua explained the potent blend between Canvas, technology, and retrofitted facilities facilitated the streaming of on-site instruction into the homes of online-learners.
Capping off the OLFU segment, Dr. Dino tackled how OLFU reformulated its assessment methodologies to embrace online-based pedagogy as a cornerstone of maintaining academic integrity. He underscored that to inspire students to embrace online learning, it is an impetus to “master the art and science of teaching” around the behavioral, affective, and cognitive areas. In layman’s terms, touching on caput, cor, and manus or the heart, the mind, and the hand. Moving beyond, he emphasized that online learning must likewise factor in academic support, technology support, health & wellbeing, and a sense of community; enumerating OLFU initiatives such as the OLFU Concierge, mental health webinars, and lookbooks. Looking to the future, he shared some projects under study as OLFU’s nod to continuous innovation and mentioned the possibility of integrating augmented reality, virtual reality, and the metaverse (which combines the virtual and physical worlds) into OLFU’s learning horizon.