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(L-R) Dr. Serrano, Dr. Pascua-Valenzuela and Dr. Biglete represented the Philippines at the 2nd World OER Congress in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

The University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU), represented by Dr. Joane V. Serrano, Director of the Information Office and the Multimedia Center, was part of the 2nd World Open Educational Resources (OER) Congress held at Ljubljana, Slovenia on 18-20 September 2017. The congress, which gathered ministers, educators, and OER advocates from different regions and countries, carried the theme, “OER for Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education: From Commitment to Action.” This commitment refers back to the 1st World OER Congress and the 2012 Paris OER Declaration. The 2012 Paris OER declaration encourages governments to require publicly funded educational resources to be openly licensed. The congress was co-organized by the government of Slovenia and United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in partnership with the Commonwealth of Learning (CoL) and Creative Commons.

The objectives of the congress were to examine solutions for mainstreaming OER into education systems worldwide; showcase the world’s practices in OER policies, initiatives and experts; and identify strategies and action plan for the way ahead. Discussions in the congress underscored the advantages and range of benefits of OER for K-12, technical and vocational education, and higher education. OERs that are well-designed and implemented can help address the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 4 - Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. Results of the six regional consultations on the current levels of progress in mainstreaming OER and the status of national and regional implementation of the 2012 Paris OER Declaration were presented in the conference which gave input to the action plan. The regional consultation, organized by the CoL in partnership with UNESCO, were held in 2016 - 2017 in Malaysia, Malta, Qatar, Mauritius, Brazil and New Zealand. The Asia Regional Consultation held on 1 - 2 December 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was also participated in by UPOU representatives.

At the conference, a ministerial panel comprised of 20 Ministers of Education and Science was also organized which called for a “dynamic coalition to expand and consolidate commitments to actions, strategies and legislation” in OER, with a “call on all educational stakeholders to implement the recommendations of the Ljubljana OER Action Plan 2017”. The statement was endorsed by 20 Ministers and their designated representatives from Bangladesh, Barbados, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Costa Rica, Croatia, Kiribati, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lithuania, Malta, Mauritius, Mauritania, Mozambique, Palestine, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates.

During the congress, a UNESCO-funded study wherein UPOU was part of was also presented by Dr. Ethel Pascua-Valenzuela, Deputy Director for Programme and Development of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO). This study included the development of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Competency Framework for Teachers, which resulted to the development of two course outlines: Technology for Teaching and Learning (TTL) 1 and TTL 2. These outlines produced 17 OERs that are now accessible through the UPOU Commons, UPOU’s OER repository. These OERs can be accessed, used and downloaded by teachers who are teaching educational technology. The OERs developed under this study also form part of the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) Certification Program on Technology for Teaching and Learning developed and offered by UPOU. These are (1) MOOC1: Introduction to Technology for Teaching and Learning; (2) MOOC2: Learning Theories and Principles in Designing Learning Using ICTs and; (3) MOOC3: Social, Ethical, and Legal Responsibility in the use of of Technology Tools and Resources. Interested teachers can enroll in these courses in the MODEL, UPOU MOOC platform.

Dr. Joane V. Serrano represented UPOU in this congress on behalf of Dr. Melinda dela Peña Bandalaria, UPOU Chancellor and President of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU). She attended the congress with Commission on Higher Education (CHED) representative Dr. Amelia Biglete, Director of Office of Programs and Standards Development (OPSD). The congress was attended by 550 participants from 111 countries. The congress concluded with the adoption of the Ljubljana OER Action Plan. (Jan Pauline Borce)

UP Open University (UPOU) Doctor of Communication (DComm) Alumnus, Reynaldo Gacho Segumpan, presented his dissertation in Sydney, Australia during the Australia and New Zealand Business, Law and Social Science Conference on August 18-20, 2017.

Mr. Segumpan’s dissertation, entitled “Understanding Mediated Intercultural Communication: An Ethnomethodological Study of Social Media Engagement Practices of Asian Expatriates,” was completed under the advisory of Dr. Jean A. Saludadez. His research explored what the Asian expatriates’ practices are when they engage in mediated intercultural communication. Three themes emerged as a result of his study -- social media engagement as everyday practice, social media engagement as a practice of building professional communities, and social media engagement as a search for virtual space.

The conference was organized by the Australian Academy of Business Leadership in order “to provide an opportunity to academics and practitioners around the world to discuss and share the contemporary issues of business and social science research.” The participants included researchers, educators, economists, lawyers and legal professionals, communication specialists, business managers, and consultants from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Chile, China (mainland), Hong Kong, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, among others.

Mr. Segumpan is an academic staff at the Ministry of Higher Education, Sultanate of Oman. He was on the Chancellor’s List when he was conferred his DComm degree on 30 July 2016.

Delighted to show their passion and talents, various local artists performed before the graduating class of UP Open University (UPOU) before they received their diploma. Last 22 September 2017, a day before the 21st commencement exercises, a cultural presentation was held in honor of the graduating class hosted by Asst. Prof. Cesar Luna of the Faculty of Management and Development Studies (FMDS).

Five performances were showcased during the cultural program. First in the line-up was the UP Rural Glee Club with their own lively rendition of the famous song entitled “How Far I’ll Go” from the movie “Moana”.

It was followed by, now Los Baños-based music artist, Ebe Dancel, a member of the Filipino rock band Sugarfree. He offered two Filipino songs which he personally composed – “Lakambini”, a tribute song about Andres Bonifacio’s love for his wife, Gregoria De Jesus, and “Bawat Daan” which music video’s setting was shot at the UPLB Campus.

The third performer was a family of Ukulele enthusiasts and advocates. Mr. Bem Favorito, a UPOU student, together with his wife and little son offered their own soulful ukulele versions of two other songs.

Last two groups of performances were representations of the faculty and staff of UP Open University. One was the Tempo band who was gladly joined by a melodious graduating student in singing, and then by one of UPOU’s very own faculty member.

The last to perform was the V-Force dancers who gained loud cheers from the crowd as they gracefully and energetically hit the dance floor. V-Force is composed of a diverse set of performers that are gifted and passionate in their own way.

The cultural program organized by the university was especially dedicated to this year’s graduating class. In line with the theme, “Education in the Age of Openness”, the program aimed to promote openness in terms of sharing skills and passion among its constituents. It also provided a venue for UPOU students and graduates to socialize during their stay in the university. Since UPOU students are limited to online social setting, the program allowed them to get acquainted with their classmates as well as with UPOU faculty and staff members. This program also served as a venue for the students to celebrate and share each other’s achievements in their journey with UPOU. (CBundalian)

I hope that in the future, we attempt to open and offer ourselves – our knowledge, abilities, and skills – to our country and even to the world – an actualization of Oblation’s selfless offering of oneself to humanity.

Reflecting upon the value and essence of ‘openness’ and how it allows achieving academic success was the quintessence of this year’s valedictory address.

Mr. Ericson Peñalba, the top graduate of the Masters in Development Communication (MDC) from the Faculty of Information and Communication Studies (FICS), delivered his valedictory address during the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) 21st Commencement Exercises focusing on the ‘Education in the Age of Openness’.

For Peñalba, studying in UPOU was a unique and rewarding experience. He particularly enjoyed being an independent learner. In an interview, he said that the rigorous training from a distance mode of learning helped him gain more confidence in performing his job as a state university instructor not only in the field of instruction but also in research and extension works.

As he looked back at the years of his struggles and triumphs in his academic journey, he described the two and a half years as both moments of frustrations and satisfaction, a love-hate relationship with the MDC program. For him, being able to survive all those complexities lies on what he considered as the “most essential characteristic of UPOU--openness”.

I believe that the benefits we derived from the openness of the UPOU education became possible due to the culture of sharing it adheres to. In particular, the sharing of knowledge, which is now beginning to transform the landscape of learning, has led to a realization that knowledge could also become a common good, not just a commodity.

He also believes that openness is not just a practice but also a virtue that should be exercised by every organization, academic institution, practitioner, teacher, and student.

With this, he challenged his fellow graduates to also acquire the same virtue, “... as we reflect on the selfless act of giving back, may we realize our value and worth as graduates of UPOU – as mga Iskolar ng Bayan who possess the virtue of openness to play an active role in advancing the culture of knowledge sharing.

He also asked fellow graduate to self-reflect. He asked “What are we willing to offer for free? What can we open source so that others may benefit from us? Are we really open to the possibility of working with and for others? Handa ba tayong magbahagi nang walang hinihinging kapalit?" (Cherry Bundalian, FICS).

Twenty-five research papers on open and distance eLearning (ODeL) authored by UP Open University (UPOU) faculty members; research, extension and professional staff (REPS); administrative employees, and research assistants were presented in the 31st Annual Conference of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU). Two of these research papers were given Young Innovators Awards. Assistant Professors Reinald Adrian Pugoy and Mari Anjeli Lubrica-Crisanto, faculty members of the Faculty of Information and Communication Studies (FICS), each received a Silver Medal for their respective research papers.

Dr. Melinda dela Peña Bandalaria, as the UPOU Chancellor and AAOU President, led the UPOU delegation composed of 37 personnel -- 29 presented research papers while 8 attended as members of the AAOU secretariat and as conference participants. The AAOU annual conference was held on 27-29 September 2017 at the Royal Ambarrukmo Hotel in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

The UPOU research papers were spread over different parallel sessions following the themes: (1) Repositioning Open University in the Digital Era: Providing Sustainable Learning Pathways; (2) Leadership in Open, Distance and Online Learning University; (3) Quality Assurance in Open Univeristy; (4) Assessment and Accreditation of Learning in Open Univeristy; and (4) Access and Justice in Open, Distance and Online Learning. List of UPOU research papers presented in AAOU can be accessed from http://aaou2017.ut.ac.id/conference-program/.

Universitas Terbuka (UT) in Indonesia hosted this year’s conference, which was participated in by 300 participants from more than 30 countries. Experts on open and distance education from various countries served as keynote speakers. These include Dr. Bandalaria, who spoke about “Quality Assurance in Open Universities”; Professor Ir. Tian Belawati, Member of the ICDE Board of Trustees and former President of ICDE and AAOU, talked about “Leadership in Open and Distance Learning Universities;” and Dr. Wayne Mackintosh, founding Director of the Open Educational Resources Foundation in New Zealand, tackled “Access and Justice in Open, Distance and Online Learning.” Another featured speaker, Emeritus Professor Tan Sri Raj Dhanarajan, the first recipient of the 2004 AAOU Meritorious Award and recipient of the 2013 International Council for Distance Education (ICDE) Prize for Lifelong Contribution to Open and Distance Education, delivered the conference reflection.

As a full member institution of the AAOU, UPOU has actively participated in the AAOU Annual Conferences. In October 2016, UPOU hosted the 30th AAOU Annual Conference in Manila, Philippines, where Dr. Bandalaria was elected as the new President of the association and Dr. Grace Javier-Alfonso, the former Chancellor of UPOU, as Secretary-General.

The UPOU, with research as part of its tripartite function, enables and supports its personnel to participate in conferences and other academic gatherings to share research results and best practices, and to gain more exposure on the trends and developments in open and distance e-learning and other fields of studies. (Anna Cañas-Llamas)

Assistant Professors Reinald Adrian Pugoy and Mari Anjeli Lubrica-Crisanto, faculty members of the Faculty of Information and Communication Studies, UP Open University (FICS, UPOU) won silver medals as 2017 AAOU Young Innovator Awardees. The awards were given in recognition of the studies they have done and research papers of which were presented in the 31st Asian Association of Open Universities Annual Conference held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia on 27-29 September 2017.

Asst. Prof. Pugoy’s paper on “Badge Enrollment and Digital Certificates: Technical Considerations in Customizing the UP Open University Massive Open Distance eLearning (MODeL) Platform” won him the award. His study presented and explained the methods of integrating and incorporating badges and QR code-enhanced certificates on a MOOC platform such as UPOU’s MODeL. Using an acceptability survey, the Asst. Professor also looked into the perceptions of the learners and course coordinators regarding the said technologies. This is Pugoy's second silver medal as AAOU Young Innovator Awardee. In the AAOU Conference held in 2015, he first won the award for his research paper "Mobile Solutions For Synchronized and Offline Version Of Open Educational Resources."

Asst. Prof. Lubrica-Crisanto, on the other hand, won the AAOU Young Innovator Award Silver Medal for her study “Group reporting as a Tool to Enhance the Quality of Courses: The Response of Database Students to Online Cooperative Learning.” This study focused on the students’ responses to the group reporting activity carried out throughout one semester which found that, overall, online cooperative learning facilitated quality learning based.

Pugoy and Lubrica-Crisanto teach courses under the Diploma in Computer Science and Master of Information Systems programs.

The AAOU Young Innovator Awards are given to conference participants from AAOU-member institutions whose research paper presented in the conference showed exemplary innovations in the implementation of open and distance learning, such as in teaching tools, application softwares, approaches to student support, and others. It is given to individuals aged 40 years old and below.

Dr. Melinda dela Peña Bandalaria, UPOU Chancellor and AAOU President, led the delegation from UPOU, composed of officials, faculty members, research and extension personnel, and administration staff members who all presented their research papers in the conference.

The 31st AAOU Annual Conference, hosted by Universitas Terbuka (UT) in Indonesia, was participated in by 300 practitioners of open and distance learning from more than 30 countries. (Anna Cañas-Llamas)

(L-R) Prof. Bejamina Flor, Dean Alexander Flor, Mr. Ericson Peñalba and Chancellor Melinda dela Peña Bandalaria pose after awarding Mr. Peñalba a gold medal for making it to the Chancellor's List.

The Faculty of Information and Communication Studies (FICS) held a thanksgiving celebration in honor of its 2017 graduating class on 22 September 2017 at the Oblation Hall, UP Open University, Los Baños, Laguna. It was a heart-warming and inspiring gathering for FICS' the students, faculty, and staff members as graduates looked back and shared their own unique journeys and stories of success.

Dr. Alexander G. Flor, the Dean of FICS said “I have this observation, that will eventually become a theory… the ones who were attracted to this field are the more evolved souls.” He acknowledged the efforts and achievements of all the students and FICS' faculty members who have been into transformation throughout their years of journey in the university. He also recognized the uniqueness of the Faculty of Study as it changes and gears towards the cutting edge of discipline in the field of communication and information.

Mr. Jerry Donato, the 2016 top graduate of FICS and former Vice President of the UPOU Alumni Foundation, Inc. (UPOUAFI) , asked this question to the members of the 2017 graduating class “What’s next or where do we go from here?” Mr. Donato, who is currently pursuing the Doctor in Communication program at UPOU and the newly-elected President of UPOUAFI, shared his journey as a lifelong learner at the university. He said that self-reflection is an important consideration in determining the next step and in doing so, as a graduate of UP, one must not forget, and must always look back at the lessons and values learned especially honor and excellence, openness, creativity, collaboration and critical thinking.

In the same event, the top graduates of FICS were recognized. They were Mr. Christian Joy Panag from the Diploma in Computer Science program, Ms. Maria Gabriella Magpusao, from the Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Studies program and Mr. Efren Duran Jr. from the Master of Information Systems program, Ms. Marga Alyanna Espino and Mr. Ericson Peñalba, from the Master in Development Communication program; and Mr. Lenardo Magno Jr. from the Doctor of Communication program.

Dr. Melinda dP. Bandalaria, former FICS Dean and currently Chancellor of UPOU gave the closing message. She encouraged the graduates to "...start on what we have right now to make an impact, one community, and one country at a time”. Quoting the current UP System President, she also asked them to give “malasakit at responsibilidad para sa sarili, sa komunidad, at sa bayan” (concern/devotion and responsibility for oneself, the community, and the country). (Cherry Bundalian)

“Philippine Education in the Age of Openness” will be the overarching theme of the 5th National Conference on Open and Distance eLearning (NCODEL). The two-day event will be joined by local and international speakers who will share concepts, principles, and methodologies of and recent trends in open and distance elearning (ODeL).

One of the plenary speakers in the conference is Atty. Michael Vernon Guerrero who will impart his knowledge during the 3rd plenary session tackling Open Education: Philippine Initiatives (MOOCs and OERs). He will be joined by two other speakers, Dr. Melinda dela Pena Bandalaria, Chancellor of UP Open University, and Director Ma. Susan P. Dela Rama, Executive Director of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Atty. Guerrero received his baccalaureate degree in AB Political Science in Ateneo de Manila University and subsequently his Bachelor of Laws at Arellano University School of Law where he is also currently posted. An accomplished lawyer and professor, he started teaching at Arellano University in 2008 handling courses such as Technology and the Law and Constitutional Law. A year before this, he was assigned Deputy Executive Director at the IT and e-Law Center in Arellano University in 2007 and then Director by 2012 up until the present. Under his leadership, the IT and e-Law Center successfully manages the LawPhil project and Creative Common Philippines where he was also made Project Lead after serving as team member in 2006 and deputy project lead until 2011. Atty. Guerrero is a proponent of the Philippine Commons which advances open education and free culture. On top of his duties as a university professor and director, he also practices at the Ocampo Arciaga-Santos and Guerrero Law Offices.

As a prolific speaker, Atty. Guerrero has been invited to discuss about Creative Commons, Copyright for Educators and Licenses for Knowledge-Sharing, The Law Governing Use and Access to Information Technology, Understanding the legal implications of computers, networks, and the Internet, and Private initiatives towards open education, to name a few. Atty. Guerrero will be taking part in the 5th NCODEL conference which will run from 22-23 November 2017 at Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, Manila, Philippines.

The University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) spearheads the 5th National Conference on Open and Distance eLearning (NCODeL) which will be held at Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria, Manila, Philippines from November 22-23, 2017. The event will feature lectures and workshops from inspiring, brilliant, and renowned practitioners from the field of open and distance e-learning (ODeL).

One of the event speakers who will share her skills and knowledge from her years of experience in the field of eLearning in Technical and Vocational Institutions (TVIs) is Ms. Ma. Susan Dela Rama. Since 2012, she has been the project manager of eTESDA, an online program of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) which showcases open and distance learning through its online courses. Dela Rama also became the Executive Director of TESDA’s Planning Office from July 2011 to December 2013. Since 2014, she serves as the Executive Director of the TESDA Certification Office.

Dela Rama earned her BA degree in Economics from the University of the Philippines Manila in 1980. In 1985, she finished her Master’s degree in Statistics in UP Diliman. Drawing from an impressive educational background, she honed her skills and knowledge by venturing into her fields of interest like strategic planning, program management, education, etc. Her expertise in ODeL, as reflected in the current span of her career, continues to create massive impact in the field.

The NCODeL 2017 will serve as an avenue for learning and exchange of ideas regarding different topics related to open and distance learning such as open educational practices, technology in ODeL, quality assurance in ODeL, data privacy act in education and more. The speakers from varying institutions and ODeL practices would greatly contribute to the discussions of the relevant topics and their expertise will surely inspire and help all attendees in developing their cognizance and skills in open and distance learning.

The University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) was adjudged as the Most Colorful Delegation at the 2017 Bañamos Civic Parade. Dr. Joane V. Serrano, Director of the Information Office and the Multimedia Center, and Asst. Prof. Aurora Lacaste, the University Registrar, led the more than 100 men and women UPOU delegation.

The parade held on 15 September 2017, was one of the activities held for the week-long celebration of the 402nd Founding Anniversary of Los Baños and the 16th Bañamos Festival. The theme of the celebration was “Mananatiling Matatag sa Hamon ng Makabagong Panahon.” The Bañamos Civic Parade was participated in by UPOU's fellow members from the Los Banos Science Community Foundation, Inc.; various government offices, people and private organizations, and schools, colleges and universities. The foot parade started at 6:00 AM from Olivarez Plaza in Bgy. Batong Malake and headed towards Paciano Rizal Park in Brgy. Baybayin. (Anna Cañas-Llamas)

The University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) shall hold its 21st Commencement Exercises on 23 September 2017, at the Oblation Park, UP Open University , Los Baños, Laguna. Three hundred seventy-nine (379) UPOU students shall be conferred with their degrees:

Undergraduate degree programs- 71
Graduate certificate - 10
Graduate diploma programs - 166
Master's degree programs - 121
PhD programs - 11

The highest number of graduates belongs to Diploma in Language and Literacy Education and Diploma in International Health programs.

This year's graduates will be led by two magna cum laude from the Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Studies program and 25 recipients of Academic Awards -- 9 are on the Chancellor’s List (those who got general weighted average (GWA) of 1.00 to 1.14) and 15 are on the Dean’s List (with a GWA of 1.15 to 1.24).

The commencement speaker for this year is the newly appointed President of the University of the Philippines System, Atty. Danilo Concepcion. President “Danicon,”as he is more fondly known in UP, is a law practitioner and professor, bar reviewer, and a radio and TV personality. As the 21st UP President, he highlights the redefinition of UP’s traditional culture of honor and excellence to include compassion, or “Husay, Dangal at Malasakit.” This puts more emphasis on UP’s service to the country.

President Danicon was the Dean of the UP College of Law before being appointed on 09 February 2017 as President of the national and premier state university of the Philippines. He earned his Master of Laws degree from the University of London as a Chevening Scholar of the United Kingdom government, graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree from UP Diliman, and a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering degree from De La Salle Araneta University. (Anna Cañas-Llamas)