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(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)

Dr. Ricardo Bagarinao (L) and Dr. Consuelo Habito (R) visits the Emergency Operation Center in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. (Photo grabbed from Dr. Bagarinao's FB Page)

Members of the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Committee visited Taiwan on 8-10 November to explore possible collaborations on offering a UPOU program on Disaster Preparedness and Management.

Dr. Ricardo Bagarinao, Dean of the UPOU Faculty of Education and former Chair of the UPOU DRRM Committee, and Dr. Consuelo Dl. Habito, Program Chair for the UPOU Master of Environment and Natural Resources Management (MENRM) program and the current Chair of the UPOU DRRM Committee, met with Dr. Min-Hao Wu, Director of the Science and Technology Center for Disaster Prevention and Reduction and concurrent Chair of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department of the National University of Kaohsiung (NUK) to discuss areas of collaboration in developing an online course on disaster preparedness. The program is envisioned to offer state-of-the-art knowledge on natural disasters to equip students with adequate skills and ability in developing disaster management systems; and to provide a venue for effective exchange of first hand experiences about Taiwan and Philippine disasters and how these disasters will be managed through open and distance elearning platforms.

Dean Bagarinao and Dr. Habito also visited the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) of the City of Kaohsiung. The staff-in-charge explained that in major emergencies or disasters, the Mayor of Kaohsiung acts as the commander in chief and directs all operations using 80 computers and phones linked via the internet or via satellite. The EOC building is earthquake-proof and is provided with backup systems for power and water, and a satellite dish for communication and data transmission. The 119 Emergency Response Center is manned 24 hours with 27 personnel on two shifts to respond to all types of emergencies. Another staff showed an application that they developed which allows any person requiring assistance such as ambulance to call or send them SMS in case of any disaster.

The NUK has earned its reputation in disaster prevention and management by continuously providing technical and professional advice in disaster prevention and management for the City Government of Kaohsiung.

Mr. Larry Cruz,  President of AUPAEU-OU Chapter welcomes the participants.

The All UP Academic Employees Union-Open University (AUPAEU-OU) Chapter joined in the celebration of the Academic Union Month this October 2017. This was in commemoration of the establishment of the Union 16 years ago. A set of activities was conducted university-wide to show the solidarity and support of all AUPAEU members.

One of the activities conducted was the Public Sector Union Orientation and Leadership Training or “Unyonismo 101” last 24 October 2017 held at the Audio Visual Room of the UP Open University (UPOU). The All UP Workers Alliance-OU Chapter (composed of AUPAEU and All UP Workers Union), AUPAEU-Los Banos Chapter and AUPAEU-National collaborated in organizing this activity to orient and train its members on public sector unionism and union leadership. To accommodate union members from the different constituent unit of UP, the event was webstreamed by the UPOU’s Multimedia Center.

Dr. Melinda Bandalaria, Chancellor of UPOU and Mr. Larry Cruz, President of AUPAEU-OU Chapter welcomed the participants. Asst. Prof. Carl Marc Ramota, President of the AUPAEU-National, in his opening remarks emphasized that this was the first time to webstream a Union activity and he wished to conduct upcoming Union activities via webstream to reach more members.

The AUPAEU-OU Chapter also partnered with the UPOU Health & Wellness Committee, All UP Workers Union-OU Chapter, and the Office of Gender Concerns, in holding a seminar on “Psycho-Emotional Well-being of Women and Men in the Workplace” with Asst. Prof. Rameses de Jesus, OIC-Director of OGC as the Resource Speaker. The seminar aimed to to increase awareness about major mental health concerns in the workplace and ways of addressing them. This was held last 26 October 2017 at UPOU-AVR, Los Banos, Laguna and participated in by UPOU employees.

Dr. Melinda Bandalaria, Chancellor of UPOU welcomed the participants and emphasized the importance of psycho-emotional well-being of women and men in the workplace such as in UPOU. On the other hand, Mr. Larry Cruz, President of the AUPAEU-OU Chapter, in his closing message, reiterated that the event was in support of the celebration of the World Mental Health Day 2017 with the theme “Mental Health in the Workplace”. He also expressed his gratitude to everyone who supported the activities for the Academic Union Month. To conclude the month long celebration, a "boodle fight" was conducted as a symbol of unity and solidarity among UPOU employees. (ESPManipol)

Faculty and Staff members of UPOU attends the training on Business Analytics at the National University of Kaohsiung in Taiwan.

On 5 November 2017, a pool of faculty and staff members of the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) visited the National University of Kaohsiung (NUK) in Taiwan for a Business Analytics training. The training is part of UPOU’s project titled “Enabling the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) for Mission RA 10650 (Open Distance Learning Act) and Strengthening its Position as a Leader in ODeL in the Region,” supported by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

Dr. Melinda dela Pena Bandalaria, UPOU Chancellor, led nine participants from UPOU, namely, Dr. Melinda Lumanta, Asst. Prof. Myra Almodiel, Asst. Prof. Ria Mae Borromeo, Asst. Prof. Mari Anjeli Crisanto, Asst. Prof. Joyce Mae Manalo, Asst. Prof. Reinald Adrian Pugoy, Asst. Prof. Al Francis Librero, Ms. Maria Karen Enrile, and Ms. Verna Banasihan. Dr. Eugene Rex Jalao, Associate Professor in UP Diliman, was also present in the training as the project’s consultant.

UPOU’s production staff, headed by Dr. Grace Javier Alfonso, Executive Director for TVUP, also filmed experts from NUK as they discussed various topics on business analytics. The videos will be part of the course materials being developed for the Business Analytics courses.

Dr. Sheng-Jang Sheu, Dr. Shao-Hsun Keng, Dr. Hsin-Chang Yang, and Dr. Wen-Kai Wang, Professors from NUK, conducted lectures on business analytics with topics on Regression, Visualization and Descriptive Analytics, Predictive Analytics, and Analytics Applications, respectively. (CABaurile)

Asst. Prof. Rameses de Jesus has been appointed OIC Director for UPOU Office of Gender Concerns.

Assistant Professor Rameses De Jesus was appointed as Officer-in-Charge (OIC)-Director of the UP Open University Office of Gender Concerns (OGC) effective 25 August 2017. He replaced Asst. Prof. Finaflor Taylan as Director of the OGC who is currently on study leave for her PhD degree.

A faculty member of the Faculty of Education, Asst. Prof. De Jesus teaches courses on basic guidance and counseling, gender and society, and communication skills for the undergraduate programs and professional teaching certification program of UPOU. He previously served as OIC-Director of the OGC in the first quarter of 2017.

Asst. Prof. De Jesus has spearheaded OGC activities including UPOU’s participation in the municipal-based cancer prevention fundraising for women, “Walk for a Cause” in March 2017, and a seminar on “Psycho-Emotional Well-being of Women and Men in the Workplace” in celebration of the World’s Mental Health Month just this October, where he served as the resource person. (RMValencia)

Dr. Melinda dela Peña Bandalaria, Chancellor of the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) and President of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU), attended the 6th ASEF Rectors’ Conference (ARC6) held in Singapore on 12-13 October 2017. The conference, organized by the Singapore Management University and the Asia-Europe Foundation, carried the theme "Future Universities and Graduate: Quality Education Beyond the Horizon." It gathered over 200 delegates representing academia, governments, business and industry, as well as international and non-governmental institutions across Asia and Europe. ARC6 focused on the following areas: (a) Interdisciplinary research and education, (b) Lifelong learning, and (c) Access to Education.

The ASEF Rectors’ Conference, which was established in 2008, has been an annual platform for discourse among academic leaders, education experts, business representatives, and policy makers in discussing relevant issues in higher education in Asia-Europe, as contributory to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals 4 (inclusive and quality education) and 8 (decent work and economic growth).

As a result of the 6th ASEF Rectors’ Conference, policies aimed toward (1) forward-looking institutional missions, (2) connecting learning and teaching, research and service to society in response to local and global challenges, (3) lifelong learning as a key mission of future-ready universities, and (4) quality education for all were recommended, for deliberation during the 6th Asia-Europe Education Ministers’ (ASEM) Meeting on 21-22 November 2017 in Seoul, Korea. (MDCuling)

Dr. Joane Serrano (L), Project Leader of the Youth for Ifugao Rice Terrace Project and Dr. Consuelo Habito (R), Program Chair for the UPOU Master of Environment and Natural Resources Management Program,

The UP Open University (UPOU) Faculty of Management and Development Studies (FMDS) through its Youth For Ifugao Rice Terraces (#Y4IRT) project organized a Let’s Talk It Over (LTIO) webinar on Save the Ifugao Terraces Movement (SITMo) Initiatives for the Sustainability and Conservation of the Ifugao Rice Terraces last 26 October 2017 at the UPOU Multimedia Center Studio located in ICTO Building, University of the Philippines Diliman. The resource person for the webinar was Mr. Marlon Martin, Chief of Operations Officer of SITMo.

In his presentation, Mr. Martin emphasized that the deterioration of the IRT also reflects the diminishing indigenous knowledge and values of the Ifugao. He also discussed the current issues and concerns of IRT such as environmental and terraced landscape degradation, diminishing community values, loss of cultural identity, and diminishing number of culture bearers and indigenous knowledge holders. According to Mr. Martin, the issue of the waning of traditional knowledge in Ifugao communities results from the introduction of new religions, culture-insensitive educational system or the standardization of education, and government policies on assimilation.

He also discussed two approaches in IRT management. The first approach is the participatory and community-led management of the IRT. He shared stories of different volunteers particularly the story of Nanay Maria, a retired teacher who currently works as a tour guide in their organization. Another approach that he discussed is the collaboration with all stakeholders on all initiatives concerning the IRT -- terraces communities, government, civil society, and the academe.

Mr. Martin also discussed a particular SITMo initiative called the Nurturing Indigenous Knowledge Experts Among the Younger Generations of Ifugaos (NIKE). This initiative aims to develop community learning centers (CLCs) as a venue for indigenous knowledge (IK) transfer; utilize the CLCs for social enterprise development; and produce IRT stewards involved in ecotourism. It is funded by the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan (NFUAJ). NIKE already conducted four phases. The first phase mainly focused on IK mapping and identification of IK holders. The second phase piloted the IK transmission at a local university. The third phase institutionalized IK transfer in consortium with the Provincial Government of Ifugao, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Ifugao, Department of Education (DEPED) Ifugao Division and the Ifugao State University (IFSU). The fourth and last phase established CLCs in terraces communities and continued the institutionalization of IK.

As part of the LTIO Series of FMDS for the month of October, the webinar was streamed through Facebook Live. Questions and comments were encouraged from the audience and some of the comments that surfaced was a suggestion to share Mr. Martin’s video to the IFSU agriculture students. UPOU FMDS also showed appreciation to Mr. Martin through a certificate presented by Dr. Joane Serrano, Director of Information Office and Multimedia Center and Project Leader of the #Y4IRT Project. (JPBorce)