Dr. Primo G. Garcia, Dean of the UP Open University (UPOU) Faculty of Management and Development Studies (FMDS) led the Research Conversations about Mission RA 10650, UPOU’s Flagship Program dedicated to fulfilling its lead role mandated by RA 10650 or Open and Distance Learning (ODL) Act. The session started with a brief introduction of the ODL Act and the roles of UPOU in the law such as providing technical assistance in curricula development forODL program and sharing innovative ideas and research for other ODL institutions. Moreover, UPOU’s share in the fulfillment of the ODL Act includes the development of information and communication technologies (ICT) for ODL, provide and design quality learning materials for ODL institutions in the Philippines, and capacitate teachers and practitioners in ODL.

Dean Garcia also reported some of the activities that UPOU has done to fulfill the mandate like organizing conferences and other academic assemblies where educators and administrators of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Technical and Vocational Institutions (TVIs) acquire and advance knowledge about ODL; offering Massive Open Online Courses on Open and Distance e-Learning (ODeL); conducting specialized training workshops on blended learning and sharing educational resources with Philippine HEIs.

To help UPOU continue and strengthen these initiatives, Dean Garcia shared the researchable areas for Mission RA 19650, classifying them into four groups -- capacity building where training needs assessment and training course evaluation can be done; technical assistance where research can include the crafting of a quality assurance framework, ICT infrastructure policy or accreditation policy; instructional models where examples can include ODeL-based curriculum research, learning materials evaluation and research and innovative technology for ODeL; and lastly, innovative research in ODL which will cover the issues and concerns of institutions on distance education (DE) and combining traditional and new media in ODL.

The Research Conversations provided a venue to discuss and share these researchable areas. Participating faculty, REPS and administrative staff members also shared their thoughts on the matter. Several suggestions, issues, and possible research methods to use surfaced. The UPOU Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (OVCAA), which spearheads the Research Conversations, encouraged research collaboration among UPOU faculty and staff members. The Research Conversations on Mission RA 10650 was held on 16 June at the Sandbox, CCDL Building, UPOU, Los Baños, Laguna.