Why I Preferred Synchronous Learning

We could be living now in the last days of the coronavirus pandemic. We can now go back to almost everything that  we used to do before the deadly contagion struck. It’s business as usual. Everything is seemingly back to normal. However, we should still keep our guards up for we know how unpredictable this pathogen called covid-19 is.

Barring the emergence  of a deadly variant of the virus aforementioned, all classes in our university (and elsewhere) will be conducted face-to-face next semester.

I miss doing classes in the classroom  but the truth is…  I have already come to like conducting online classes and I am not certain anymore which of the two modes of delivering education – traditional or virtual – I now prefer. Whichever, I am ready.

But I could actually heave a sigh of relief now that we will be heading back to the “real classroom” and meet the students in person. Why? Actually, I found virtual classes more difficult to conduct. Probably because I did my classes synchronously. I could have chosen the asynchronous method and things could have been easier. Conducting actual classes online is far more challenging than preparing videos. I am not saying that the method  I chose (synchronous) is more effective than the other one when it comes to online language learning. Extensive research is needed to verify which of the two methods – synchronous or asynchronous – is better.

I don’t know why I feel like  I am not performing my pedagogical functions when all I do is prepare videos of my lessons. It is as if I am shortchanging my students when I don’t actually teach. With classes being run in real-time and the students and I attending together from different locations, the synchronous method, somehow,  gives learning a semblance of formality. Teaching online using this method  gives the students a chance to participate in the discussion and a chance to ask questions when necessary. It also gives the students an opportunity to present to the teacher whatever class-related concerns they have.

All of the above cannot be done if a teacher teaches by just uploading videos.  In asynchronous learning, teachers rely on the assumption that students are responsible enough to watch the videos and perform the activities they require. Lest we forget that assumption is the mother of all screw-ups.

Of course, if asked which method of online learning they would prefer – synchronous or asynchronous, the majority (if not all) of students would choose the latter. Why? Come on! You know the reason why. It’s the same reason why most teachers prefer to just prepare videos of their lessons than actually teach them online –  CONVENIENCE. I would be judgmental if I would say that the reason is LAZINESS. So, I am not going to say LAZINESS but rather CONVENIENCE. Right?

Between attending online classes for 2 hours or watching video lessons  for half (or even) less of that time, which would students choose?

Between preparing video lessons for 2 hours (or perhaps even less… or it could a little  more) and actually teaching for 12-16 long hours per week, which would teachers choose?

I made my choice. I decided to teach online synchronously  for the past 5 semesters. Not because I was aiming for martyrdom nor am I dreaming to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church should several centuries later they would decide to finally choose among teachers a saint.

I already said the primary reason for me opting to embrace the synchronous method  – I don’t feel like I am performing my functions as a teacher when all I do is prepare videos of my lessons. For me, just posting video lessons is not teaching. Not actually meeting the students (even if just online) is not giving them enough guidance in the learning process. It is wrongly presuming that all of them are independent learners who could learn sans the direct supervision of the teacher. It is also wrongly presuming that all of them would watch the videos and that when they watch they do so from beginning up to the end.

I also thought that just letting students watch the videos by themselves would also deprive them of the chance to have meaningful interactions with other people possibly exacerbating the feeling of  isolation, emptiness, and sadness  brought forth by the pandemic. Covid-19 blues were real and conducting online classes synchronously could have given the students an opportunity to meet their classmates and friends even just virtually. 

Am I an old-school teacher thus I prefer synchronous learning?

I probably am in the sense that I believe that online or otherwise a teacher is a teacher and they must carry out their pedagogical functions completely and effectively, no ifs… no buts.

But I am not (old-school) in the sense that I consider technology as an integral part of my being a 21st-century teacher.  I am not  an expert in technology but I am enthusiastic about it. I am a digital immigrant having been born in an era when computers were still in their developmental stage. But I tried my best to keep up (not with the Joneses but)  with the digital natives. There’s nothing they could learn that I wouldn’t be able to. I exerted effort and invested  to learn how to use all the application software and programs that would make me a more effective teacher. I explored (and keep exploring) online platforms that will keep me up-to-date on the most recent innovations in education in general and language learning in particular.

The world is slowly reverting  back to the face-to-face method of delivering education. Both teachers and students will soon go back to the “real classroom.” I am saying hello again to the traditional way of teaching-learning – but with a twist. The pandemic paved the way to the evolution of the educational process. It’s now the era of blended or hybrid learning. Online learning is entirely not an offshoot of the pandemic. It has been practiced in the academe for many years now but its implementation was not done in the magnitude of what we witnessed during the time when the health crisis was at its worst. The deadly pestilence  fast-tracked that evolution.

When offline classes are held again, I will determine which part of what I do as a teacher could be “computer-mediated.” For one, my assessment will completely be paperless. All my tests, quizzes, and other graded exercises will have to be done online just like how it was during the time that I conducted online classes. Submission of requirements will also be done virtually. I will create an electronic portfolio (Google Drive folder) where students should upload their projects and homework.

At this point, everybody in the academe should be keeping their fingers crossed that no new variant of this coronavirus would suddenly sneak in and force schools to again hold classes online. But should there be a need to do so, there should be crystal clear answers to the following questions:

  1. Which of the two methods is more effective – synchronous or asynchronous?
  2. In which subjects/courses synchronous (or asynchronous) is applicable?

There is a need to conduct research to determine which of the two methods of conducting online classes is more effective and whether or not one method is applicable to all subjects/courses. Schools should not give teachers a free hand in choosing which method they should use. The schools must be the ones to decide which method is most applicable to a particular subject based on the results of studies conducted. The schools should also take into consideration the fact that students have different learning styles. This means that some of them could learn better without the direct supervision of a teacher, but some need to be supervised closely.

Why Your Attitudes & Beliefs Matter

In this video, I tried to articulate the thesis that attitudes and beliefs are determinants of success and happiness.

HANGIN

Ang pagyakap sa isang ideolohiyang politikal o ang simpleng pagpapahayag ng paniniwala o adhikain na kaugnay sa politika ay maihahalintulad sa pagtatanim ng hangin. Hindi ka nakakatiyak kung ano ang iyong aanihin – hanging amihan ba o habagat. May salawikain nga tayo na ganito ang sinasabi – “Kapag nagtanim ka ng hangin, bagyo ang iyong aanihin.”

Kung ang makakarinig o makakabasa ng mga ipinahayag mo ay kahalintulad mo ng paniniwala, amihan ang hanging iyong aanihin. Ang pagsangayon ng mga kakampi mo ay parang hanging amihan na dadampi sa iyong mga pisngi. Maginhawa iyon sa pakiramdam. Ang papuring ibibigay nila ay parang malamyos na hangin. Presko.

Subalit kung ang makakasumpong ng mga ipinahayag mo ay kasalungat mo ang paniniwala’t paninindigan, hanging habagat ang iyong aanihin. Humanda ka sa paghihip nito. Dala ng hanging habagat ay ulan. Pihadong uulanin ka ng batikos. Hindi masarap ang dampi ng hanging habagat. Minsan may kasama pa itong kidlat, mga bayolenteng reaksyon laban sa adhikain mong politikal o sa mga pahayag mong malinaw na nagsasaad ng iyong paninidigan sa politika at kung sinong politiko ang iyong sinusuportahan.

Para sa mga hindi mo kaalyado at kakampi sa politika, ano man ang sabihin mo, tama o mali, eh para itong hanging ibinuga mo sa iyong likuran. Tama ka, ang tawag sa hanging iyon ay utot. Masangsang ito’t mabantot para sa kanila. Pero siyempre kung ang makakaamoy nito ay kabilang sa kampong pinili mong samahan ay sasabihin nilang ito’y amoy rosas at sampagita.

Ang paniniwalang politikal ay para kasing hininga, nakakasulasok at makabaligtad-sikmura ang amoy nito kung manggagaling sa bibig ng mga hindi mo kakulay. Wala naman itong kasingbango kung ito’y mamumutawi sa labi ng mga kaalyado mo.

Kung lilimiin natin ng mabuti, ang eleksyon sa Pilipinas ay parang ipo-ipo. Kapag ito’y dumaan, nagugulo ang mundo ng mga Pilipino. Dulot nito’y pagkawasak… pagkawasak ng kanilang pangangatwiran. Nakakadismaya na sa panahon ng eleksyon animo’y nagsasara ang isip ng karamihan sa atin. Aminin man natin o hindi eh watak-watak tayo…galit-galit…. kanya-kanya. Napakahirap ipaliwanag kung bakit sa panahon ng eleksyon ang tanging tama ay kung ano ang isinusulong ng panig na  kinabibilangan natin… na ang tanging karapat-dapat na manalo ay ang kandidatong sinusuportahan natin… na ang kandidatong sinusuportahan natin ay siya lang ang mabuti…malinis… marangal… walang bahid dungis… na ang ibang kandidato at ang mga sumusuporta sa kanila ay mga bobo, sira-ulo, at kampon ng kadiliman.    

Parang ipo-ipo rin ang mga pulitiko sa Pilipinas. Ang bilis nilang umikot kapag may eleksyon. Bawat sulok na may botante napapasok. Ang bilis nilang magpaikot ng pera… para sa materyales na gagamitin nila upang isulong ang kanliang kandidatura… iyong iba sa kanila ay magapapaikot ng pera para  bumili ng boto.

Animo’y ipo-ipo nga ang mga pulitiko. Ang galing at ang tindi nilang mag-paikot – ng tao. Paiikutin ka nila’t paniniwalain hanggang ika’y mahilo at mahibang. Kung hindi matibay ang pundasyon ng pag-iisip mo ay mahihipnotismo ka. Iyan ang nangyari sa maraming Pilipino. Nahilo’t nahibang. Sa sobrang hilo at hibang nga ng iba ay tila sila’y nagiging panatiko. Makikipagbangayan sila’t  makikipagaway, minsan makikipagpatayan upang ipagtanggol ang politikong animo’y Diyos na kung kanilang ituring. Sa sobrang hilo ng ilan sa mga kababayan natin ay kakagalitin kahit mga mahal sa buhay, ipagtatabuyan ang mga kaybigan, at hihiwalayan ultimo ang kasintahan upang ipagtanggol ang parang sa tingin nila ay mga santo o santa na politikong kanilang sinusuportahan. Sa sobrang hilo nila eh tapos na ang eleksyon eh hindi pa rin humihintong ipaglaban ang kanilang sinasambang politiko.

Ang eleksyon ay parang hanging dadaanan tayo. Kapag lumampas na, panalo o talo, eh huwag na nating habulin.  Mahirap habulin ang hangin. Hindi mo ito maaabutan. Hindi mo kaya (at hindi) puwedeng baguhin ang resulta.

Habang nilalakbay mo ang  dagat ng buhay at ang hangin ng politika ay hindi sumangayon sa direksyong gusto mong lakbayin ay dalawa lamang ang puwede mong pagpiliang gawin. Una, bumalik ka sa pampang at hintayin mong humihip ang hangin sangayon sa iyong kagustuhan.  At ang pangalawa, ayusin mo ang timon mo’t layag at ipagpatuloy mo ang paglalakbay. Hindi mo kaylangang bumalik sa pampang. Porke ba natalo ang kandidato mo eh magmukmok ka sa isang sulok at iiyak na parang batang inagawan ng kendi? Wika nga nila sa English, “You cannot change the wind, but you can adjust your sail.”  Patuloy ka lang maglakbay. May buhay kang dapat ayusin na huwag mong isama  sa inog ng ipo-ipo ng politika. Umiwas ka sa ipo-pong nililikha ng mga pulitiko. Hindi katapusan ng mundo dahil lang natalo ang kandidatong iniidolo mo.  Patuloy na iikot ang mundo, panalo man o talo ang sinuportahan mong kandidato. At kung nanalo naman ang kandidato mo eh ano? Ang pagkapanalo niya ay parang hangin ding lalampas. Matapos ang selebrasyon at pangangantyaw sa talunan eh ano na ang susunod mong gagawin? Huwag ka masyado magpakalunod sa tagumpay na natamo ng kandidato mo. Dahil nga ang eleksyon ay parang hangin. Lalampasan ka lang niyan. Babalik at babalik ka sa realidad ng buhay – na ang tagumpay mo at kaligayahan ay hindi nakasasalay sa nanalong kandidato. Nakasalalay iyan sa sarili mong pagsisikap.    

Lagi nating tandaan na ang politika ay parang hangin. Papalit-palit ito ng direksyon. Minsan ang kampo mo panalo, minsan talo. Ganoon talaga. Wika nga nila, sa mundo ng politika ay weder-weder lang.

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