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(L-R)The TDP project staff members Luisa A. Gelisan, Michael P. Lagaya, and Rhonna Marie Vereña, received the award on behalf of UPOU Chancellor Melinda dP. Bandalaria, TDP's Project Leader. (Photo from Liza Gelisan's Facebook Page)

The Teacher Development Program (TDP) through eLearning of the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) was among the eight recipients of the University of the Philippines (UP) 2nd Gawad Pangulo: Award for Excellence in Public Service. The award was given on 5 December 2017 at UP Diliman, Quezon City during the Gawad Pangulo Ceremony hosted by the Office of the President and organized by the UP Padayon Public Service Office under the Office of the Vice President for Public Affairs (OVPPA). The Award aimed to recognize outstanding public service initiatives of various units of the UP System that exhibit compassion (malasakit) to the different publics that the university serves.

The TDP is one of UPOU's community engagement programs that aims to improve the quality of education in the public elementary and high schools in Mauban, Quezon by upgrading the knowledge and skills of the mentors. The program consisted of support for non-formal training programs/courses like teaching strategies, integration of computer and internet use to teaching and learning, and scholarship grants to the diploma and master’s programs offered by UPOU. The program was a joint effort of UPOU and its partners: Quezon Power (Philippines) Ltd.; Mauban Local Government Unit; Department of Education-Quezon; and UPOU Foundation, Inc.

To date, the program has trained 132 teachers and more than 100 teachers had successfully completed their degree programs at UPOU. A few are still in the process of completing their courses. Aside from the training programs, TDP was also able to help establish an eLearning Ville in Mauban, Quezon, through partnerships with the Office of Congressman Mark Enverga, PLDT, Intel-Philippines, National Computer Center, and the Department of Science and Technology. The eLearning Ville is a model which combined the concepts of a Community eCenter and Learning Town.

This is the third award received by TDP. It has earlier received the International eAsia 2011 Award and the International Good Practice on Lifelong Learning. (ESPMANIPOL)

UPOU Chancellor Melinda Bandalaria talks about "Open Education in the Philippines: The Imperatives; The Initiatives; The Impediments." as one of the speakers for third and last plenary session of NCODeL2017.

Dr. Melinda dela Peña Bandalaria, University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) Chancellor, served as one of the speakers during the third and last plenary session of the 5th National Conference on Open and Distance eLearning (NCODeL) held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on 23 November 2017.

In line with the country’s education agenda to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education as well as promote lifelong learning opportunities, Dr. Bandalaria tackled the importance of open education. Her staunch support for the democratization of quality education across learners of different social and economic backgrounds was apparent in her presentation, titled “Open Education in the Philippines: The Imperatives; The Initiatives; The Impediments.

With more than 400 million projected number of students who will be enrolled in higher education by 2030, Dr. Bandalaria believes that the educational sector should respond to the scale and urgency of the demand with accessible, affordable, and quality higher education. “In the Philippines, where poverty is still a major hindrance to accessing quality education, open education is a possible recourse,” she said.

She detailed UPOU’s initiatives to improve access to quality education, which includes the continuous development of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and Open Educational Resources (OERs). Currently, the university is developing additional MOOCs on business analytics, technology for teaching and learning, community-based disaster risk reduction management, and foreign service development. These have the support of both government and non-government agencies, such as the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Anchored on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and thrust toward public service, UPOU will continue to develop and implement initiatives that will support lifelong learning. Dr. Bandalaria stated that MOOCs and OERs are good starting points but she recognizes that more work still needs to be done to make open education work for the Philippines. Aside from enhancing the content of educational materials and learners’ access, the low completion rate of MOOCs must also be addressed. More importantly, institutions must keep lobbying for the recognition of MOOC certification among different stakeholders, academic institutions, and industry players.

Along with Dr. Bandalaria, Ms. Maria Susan P. Dela Rama, Executive Director of the TESDA Certification Office, represented by Mr. Carmelo Camon, discussed TESDA’s Online Program (TOP). TOP features online courses in several sectors such as agriculture, tourism, and health care. Another speaker for the session on “Open Education: The Philippine Initiatives (MOOCs and OERs)” was Atty. Michael Vernon M. Guerrero, a professor at the Arellano University School of Law. He shared his knowledge on Intellectual Property Rights and Creative Commons License.

Overall, the session opened a dialogue on the current trends and future directions of ODeL. It gave an overview of the status of open education initiatives – both formal and non-formal – and the importance of lifelong learning for all in the context of sustainable development in the country. (Patricia Calora, FICS)

Ms. Rhonna Marie Verena (R) accepts the Best Presentation Award at the 3rd ASEAN University Conference on Public Relations and Communications (APRC) 2017.

Ms. Rhonna Marie Robles-Verena, a University Researcher from the Faculty of Education (FEd), UP Open University (UPOU), was given the Best Presentation Award at the 3rd ASEAN University Conference on Public Relations and Communications (APRC) 2017. Ms Verena is one of the six conference presenters given the award. Other awardees were from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam. The award's criteria were paper content (60%), presentation media/visuals (20%), and delivery (20%).

Ms. Verena presented a paper on "Connecting Teachers and Students in Online Classrooms: Communicative Practices of Student Support" wherein she discussed the evolution in the communicative practices of student support services provided by FEd. The evolution were influenced by the following factors: 1) diversity in the program offerings, 2) changing and varying profile of its students and faculty members, 3) enrollment rate, 4) developments in the implementation of distance education, and 5) advances in technology. She also shared the current initiatives/innovative practices that have been employed to disseminate relevant information about academic and administrative processes to all the Faculty’s stakeholders.

APRC 2017 was organized by Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM), Institute of Public Relations Malaysia Students Association, and UUM Student Development and Alumni Office of the College of Arts & Sciences. It was held at the EDC Hotel in UUM, Kedah, Malaysia on 25-26 November 2017.

The theme of this year's conference was "Bridging ASEAN to Global Community: The Current and Future Communication Challenges." The conference is a platform for students and representatives of higher learning institutions in Malaysia and the Asian region to discuss and share thoughts on issues related to public relations and communication as experienced and practiced in other ASEAN countries. The UPOU is one of the partner-institutions of the conference.

Other UPOU personnel who presented their research papers and/or participated in the conference were Dr. Jean A. Saludadez, Luisa A. Gelisan, Emely Amoloza, and Ela Giselle Abao.

This is now the 2nd year that UPOU bagged the Best Presentation Award.

Dr. Alexander G. Flor, Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Information and Communication Studies (FICS) discusses the challenges of open and distance elearning (ODeL) in  one of the special sessions of  the NCODeL 2017.

Dr. Alexander G. Flor, Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Information and Communication Studies (FICS) of the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU), discussed the challenges of open and distance elearning (ODeL) in one of the special sessions of the 5th National Conference in Open and Distance eLearning (NCODeL) held on 23 November 2017 at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, Metro Manila, Philippines.

The presentation was titled “Navigating through the Dark Side of Open and Distance eLearning (ODeL)” which aimed to inform the participants of the possible downsides of adopting “openness” in their education system. This is also to alert them of the possible effects and challenges alongside it.

Dr. Flor’s presentation showed a different take on ODeL unlike the other presentations which aimed to show the participants the benefits and the recent discoveries on ODeL. According to him, “We should take the good along with the bad.” He also shared that open knowledge resources are not always appropriate for all types of audiences especially those who do not have access to the basic media needed for ODeL. His talk did not just end with the list of the cons of open knowledge and delivery systems, he also “untangled the ODeL problematique” and suggested possible solutions to make the approach efficient and effective to the education system.

Dr. Flor proposed that ODeL should not be encouraged in the basic education curriculum. He emphasized that the appropriate assessment approach in this type of system should also be used according to knowledge levels. He added that It is also a must to utilize a “third-party or industry based assessment” in evaluating the learners.

Dr. Flor clarified that his presentation is not intended to discourage the audience to adopt ODeL in their curriculum but to make them aware of the possibilities of this approach.

This Special Session is part of the 2-day conference hosted by the UPOU, in coordination with the UPOU Foundation, Inc., the Philippine Society for Distance Learning and the Commission on Higher Education. NCODeL 2017 was participated in by more than 300 participants in 123 higher education institutions from all over the Philippines. (Yrelle Mae Lleva, FICS)

Asst. Prof. Mari Anjeli Crisanto presents the technologies used in teaching and learning as one of the topics of the NCODeL 2017 Pre-Conference Workshops organized by FICS.

In the recently concluded 5th National Conference on Open and Distance eLearning (NCODeL 2017) organized by the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU), Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) gained a deeper understanding of elearning through the pre-conference workshops conducted. One of the three pre-conference workshops organized for the participants was the “Technology in Open and Distance eLearning (ODeL)” spearheaded by the UPOU Faculty of Information and Communication Studies (FICS) held on 22 November 2017.

The workshop was led by the Faculty Dean, Dr. Alexander G. Flor. He presented an enlightening and informative introduction to ODeL and gave a discussion on “Teaching in a Virtual Classroom.” Other faculty members also presented different topics such as “Tools for Teaching in UPOU” where technologies used in teaching and learning were discussed by Assistant Professors Myra Almodiel and Mari Anjeli Crisanto. It was followed by an “Overview of Learning Management Systems (LMS)" delivered by Assistant Professor Al Librero where he provided examples and actual LMS he uses in class. Lastly, Assistant Professors Reinald Pugoy and Joyce Manalo talked about “Moodle-ing: A Walkthrough of the Basics of Moodle. ” In this session, they demonstrated and explained the procedures and processes involving the use and application of Moodle as a free and an open-source LMS for eLearning. Dr. Ria Mae Borromeo, Assistant Professor at FICS, moderated the session.

An open forum was held to cap off the pre-conference. Dr. Flor together with the faculty members provided insightful responses to the number of participants from various educational institutions who communicated their views and queries regarding initiatives and implementations of ODeL as a means of learning in the country. Other participants commended the team for giving a clearer view of ODeL. School administrators and leaders also inquired about the possibilities of partnership in promoting and implementing ODeL through basic trainings. In behalf of Dr. Melinda dela Peña Bandalaria, Chancellor of UPOU, Assistant to the Chancellor Myra Almodiel ensured to give support to other institutions interested in ODeL.

The pre-conference was part of the two-day conference held on 22-23 November 2017 at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, Metro Manila Philippines. A total of 75 participants from different academic institutions actively participated in the pre-conference workshop on Technology in ODeL. (Cherry Bundalian, FICS )

At the 5th National Conference on Open and Distance eLearning (NCODeL), the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU), through its Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (OVCAA), launched the book “Assessment Praxis in Open and Distance eLearning: Thoughts and Practices in UPOU”. The book editors, Dr. Melinda F. Lumanta, UPOU Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and Dr. Liza C. Carascal, Executive Director of the UPOU Foundation, Inc. (UPOUFI) and Principal of the UP Rural High School, proudly presented the book during the conference dinner held at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria on 22 November 2017.

This fifth book produced by the OVCAA gives a glimpse of how a community of 21st century educators, immersed in open and distance elearning (ODeL), engages thought and practice to produce a unified and constantly adapting system of assessment in varied forms and functions carried out at different levels. This volume captures the assessment praxis of the UPOU as gleaned from existing practices as well as from thought papers of its faculty members, researchers, and academic and administrative leaders. The richness of the book comes from its 14 chapters written by 22 authors.

As emphasized by Dr. Lumanta, praxis, as differentiated from practice, is the dynamic interplay between thought and action involving a continuous process of understanding, interpretation, and application. This is reflected in the organization of the book chapters -- thoughts, practices, and institutional responses informed by the ODeL framework. These are wrapped up by a culminating chapter wherein a multi-level and multi-functional perspective of assessment was proposed. In varying ways and emphases, the articles in this book articulate the need to address the realities of 21st century teaching and learning where assessment plays an important role. (MADolom & MRSanBuenaventura)

(L-R) UPOU Former Chancellors Dr. Felix Librero, Dr. Grace Javier Alfonso, and Dr. Ma. Cristina Padolina share their experiences through different generations of distance education. Dr. Melinda Bandalaria (2nd from right) moderated the special session.

The three former chancellors of the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) shared their perspectives on the development of open and distance eLearning (ODeL) in the Philippines in a special session of the recently held 5th National Conference on Open and Distance eLearning (NCODeL). ) Dr. Melinda dela Pena Bandalaria, current Chancellor of UPOU, moderated the special session held on 22 November 22 at Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria.

Dr. Ma. Cristina D. Padolina, Chancellor of UPOU from 1995 to 2001, admitted that establishing UPOU was not that easy. “The apprehensions have a lot to do with the quality of distance education at that time,” she recalled. “Twenty years ago we did not have the Internet.” Because of the lack of technology at that time, Dr. Padolina recalled that they also started with face to face tutorials in the different learning centers established all over the country. They commissioned writers to create modules for the curriculum.

Dr. Felix Librero, UPOU Chancellor from 2001 to 2007, recounted the struggles of establishing open and distance learning in the Philippines. “It is difficult to migrate from teacher-controlled education to a learner-controlled one.” Dr. Librero also identified that the reluctance of Higher Education Institution (HEI) administrators and the technological gaps between generations added to the problems in developing Open and Distance eLearning (ODeL) in the Philippines.

We have to OU-fy the process,” stated Dr. Grace Javier Alfonso, Chancellor of UPOU from 2007 to 2016, referring to the process of development of the open and distance education in the country. Dr. Alfonso acknowledged that all the other Chancellors, including Dr. Bandalaria, were all there from the start.

I have reaped all the fruits that the previous Chancellors had planted,” said Dr. Bandalaria, claiming to be the luckiest Chancellor because in her time, ODeL is already established and is continuing to grow and spreading across the country.

Despite all the struggles that the four chancellors have experienced and is currently experiencing while improving the status of ODeL in the country, Dr. Bandalaria concluded the special session in her very confident words: “We’re there. UPOU is already there.” (Maine Basan, FICS)

I always define ‘leading’ as ‘enabling’... When we talk of leading, it means to say that we are also enabling -- and that’s the only time we can say that we are the leader in this field of distance education,” said University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) Chancellor Melinda dela Peña Bandalaria during the exploratory meeting in Ifugao State University (IFSU) on 14 November 2017. Chancellor Bandalaria, along with Asst. Prof. Myra Almodiel and Ms. Cien Angela Baurile, met with the faculty and staff members of IFSU - College of Open Distance Education and Transnational Education (CODETE) as part of the UPOU’s Cascading Best Practices Program.

The meeting started with an opening statement from Dr. Nancy Ann Gonzales, IFSU Vice President for Academic Affairs, expressing her gratitude for choosing their university as one of the four Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the country that UPOU will assist in strengthening distance education programs. Dr. Serafin Ngohayon, IFSU President, gave the participants an overview of why UPOU came to visit IFSU - to conduct an exploratory meeting on the Distance Education (DE) Readiness of the university’s faculty and staff. Dr. Ngohayon also shared the development that IFSU had gone through in terms of their distance education and transnational education programs. These details are vital in determining in which aspects UPOU’s best practices can be cascaded.

As part of the exploratory meeting, CODETE Dean Ivan Baguilat presented the current status of IFSU’s distance education program. He presented the programs they offer, the state of their faculty and staff members, and their initiatives for the CODETE programs. Mr. Joel Bahni, CODETE Application Developer, showcased the Learning Management System (LMS) he developed for IFSU.

Another part of the meeting was the identification of possible plans and activities under the cascading program. Chancellor Bandalaria led the discussion mentioning some of her observations from the distance education implementation of IFSU. Moreover, Chancellor Bandalaria also identified areas where UPOU’s best practices can be cascaded. She invited the participants to the 5th National Conference on Open and Distance e-Learning (NCODeL), a conference hosted by UPOU, where they can get more insights that may help in the improvement of their programs andLMS. Furthermore, she recommended that the faculty and staff of IFSU enroll in the free online courses on DE Readiness UPOU is offering.

What exactly do we mean by leading? It’s not you walking in front. We have to reconceptualize the concept of leadership. It’s you walking side by side.” This is what Chancellor Bandalaria said as she explained to the participants why UPOU is assisting HEIs in developing their distance education programs. The meeting concluded with some questions from the participants and final words from President Ngohayon and Chancellor Bandalaria.

Cascading Best Practices Program is one component of UPOU’s project on Institutional Innovation. This project aims to strengthen UPOU’s programs and manpower. This development is expected to eventually help the university in capacitating other HEIs and enabling them to offer their programs from technology-enhanced to fully-online mode of instruction.

Other HEIs identified for this project are Benguet State University (BSU), St. Paul University Philippines - Tuguegarao, and Southern Leyte State University. (CABaurile)

Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero delivers the keynote message.

The 5th National Conference on Open and Distance eLearning (NCODeL2017), a biennial academic forum organized by the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU), was a smashing success.

Held on 22-23 November 2017 at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria in Metro Manila, Philippines, 333 faculty members, researchers, administrators and policymakers from 123 higher education institutions (HEIs) participated and made the conference a huge success.

With the theme “Philippine Education in the Age of Openness,” NCODeL2017 treated its participants to three pre-conference workshops on instructional design, technology and data privacy in Open and Distance eLearning (ODeL); three plenary sessions on different aspects of ODeL featuring seven speakers who talked about Open Educational Practices, Country Cases on Open Education and the Philippine Initiatives in Open Education; four special sessions on on-demand issues revolving around ODeL - establishment, assessment, research and its dark side; and 50 research papers by 106 authors presented in four parallel sessions.

The conference opened with Dr. Melinda dela Peña Bandalaria, Chancellor of UPOU welcoming all the participants with a reminder about ODeL’s ultimate drive towards social responsibility and service to the country. The keynote message of Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Culture and the Arts, was about the importance of access and quality education for all Filipinos. “Open and Distance eLearning (ODeL) ang magsisilbing tulay upang marating at makamit natin ang pangarap na abot-kaya at libreng edukasyon.” Another keynote speech was from Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Commissioner J. Prospero De Vera, whose call was for greater openness among HEIs. He was represented by Mr. Franklin Oliva, his Executive Assistant.

At the close of the 2-day event, awards were given to deserving academics whose researches proved outstanding. Dr. Maria Ana Quimbo from UP Los Baños was the recipient of the NCODeL 2017 Best Paper Award, while Dr. Giged Battung from St. Paul University was the NCODeL 2017 Best Practice Awardee. Dr. Melinda Lumanta, UPOU Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs formally closed the event with the highlights of the conference and an invitation to the International Conference on Open and Distance eLearning (ICODeL) themed “Technology Enhanced Education in the Age of Openness” to be held on on 24-26 November 2018 in Kaosiung, Taiwan.

Chancellor Bandalaria congratulated the UPOU team, thrilled and proud with the success of the conference. “Again, we've proved that as a team - together - we can do better!!”

Dr. Joane Serrano, Director of the UPOU Information Office and the Multimedia Center, shares a strategy for a successful online marketing at the Workshop on Increasing Accessibility, Visibility and web Presence held at the Hive Hotel in Quezon City.

To intensify the implementation of the @ccessUP Flagship Program under the UP Open University (UPOU) 2016 - 2019 Strategic Plan, the UPOU Information Office conducted the “Workshop on Increasing Accessibility, Visibility and Web Presence” on 7-8 November 2017 at the Hive Hotel, Quezon City. The workshop was attended by 24 Designated Information Officers (DIOs) and Social Media administrators representing various offices of UPOU.

For the first part of the workshop, Dr. Joane V. Serrano, Director of the Information Office and the Multimedia Center at UPOU, shared a strategy for a successful online marketing. Part of her discussion was the use of Attract-Convert-Transform or ACT framework by Shama Hayder Kabani in creating a good marketing message. Dr. Serrano also reiterated UPOU’s social media campaign entitled #OUPossibilities which is aligned with the objective of @accessUP which is to ensure the accessibility of UPOU programs by all sectors of the society. She also gave the participants a hands-on activity on ‘social media goals’ to be shared and applied in their respective offices.

The second session, on Media Relations, was organized in coordination with the UPOU Alumni Foundation, Inc. (UPOUAFI). Mr. Jerry Donato, Entertainment Sub-Editor of The Philippine STAR, and UPOUAFI President, served as the resource speaker. Mr. Donato discussed what media relations is and what entails a good relationship with the media. He also shared style guides and best practices, sourced from Ms. Ann Oriondo, former Assistant Editor of Allure and Newsmakers, in creating news articles, capturing photos for publications, and detailing points for consideration when pitching to the media. For Mr. Donato, media relations is about human touch as well as creating and building friendships.

The third session focused on Web Accessibility where Mr. Tomas B. Cabagay, Jr., Information Systems Researcher III of UPOU, shared a study co-authored with Ms. Anna Canas-Llamas on the common problems encountered when posting web content and how to ensure websites are accessible even to differently-abled people. The session ended with suggestions to develop style guides for website content and uniformity.

The last session dealt with Social Media Management by Asst. Prof. Myra Almodiel, UPOU Program Development Associate for Social Media and Ms. Anna Canas-Llamas, Information Officer II. On behalf of Asst. Prof. Almodiel, Ms. Canas-Llamas shared how to effectively use social media to help UPOU achieve its goal of widening its reach, and shared a social media calendar and schedule for the university that everyone can contribute to. As a means to ensure the sustainability of these initiatives, the Information Office will be conducting monthly “Lunch and Learn” sessions.

The two-day workshop is also part of the API 2017 Project under the Information Office entitled “Planning and Development of Policies and Guidelines for Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in UPOU Websites and Portal as part of Quality Assurance Framework.” (LPPetrasanta)

Emely Amoloza, University Extension Associate II of the Faculty of Information and Communication Studies (FICS) of the UP Open University (UPOU), presented a paper in the 2nd Colleges and Universities Public Service Conference (CUPSCon) held on 9-10 November 2017 at UP Bonifacio Global City Campus, Taguig City. Ms. Amoloza presented a paper which she co-authored with UPOU Chancellor and Professor Melinda dela Pena Bandalaria entitled “ePublic Service for Social Transformation: A School-Based Digital Literacy Training.”

Their study shares UPOU‘s endeavors as a public service institution in promoting digital literacy by conducting trainings and projects together with other organizations and institutions who share the same vision of a socially transformed Philippines. Ms. Amoloza talked about the implementation of “Infoteach”, a digital literacy training project with public high school teachers and students, including the out-of-school youths, as the target learners which started in 2012. She also discussed the eLearning modules and open educational resources (OERs) developed and reused in the implementation of the training program in the eLearning mode.

The two-day conference was organized by the University of the Philippines Padayon Public Service Office. With the theme, “Compassion and Social Responsibility: Cornerstones of Public Service and Extension in Higher Education”, the conference aimed to continually build on the previous conference’s goal, which is to “provide platform to effectively harness teaching and research for extension and public service, a venue for scholarly discussion on best practices and areas for improvement, and an opportunity to share and document innovative initiatives by higher education institutions (HEIs).” This year’s main trust highlighted the manifestation of compassion (malasakit) in the public service/extension initiatives and practices of HEIs. (CBundalian)