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The University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) is one of the partner universities of the second ASEAN University Conference on Public Relations and Communication (APRC2016). The conference, hosted by the Institute of Public Relations Malaysia Student Association in collaboration with Students Development and Alumni (SDA) Office, Universiti Utara Malaysia, provided a platform for students, academics, and practitioners to discuss issues and share experiences related to the practice and application of public relations and to foster networking.

“One Vision, One Identity, One Community: Fostering Public Relations Network for ASEAN Communities” served as the theme of the conference that was held at the EDC Hotels and Resorts, Universiti Utara Malaysia on 18-20 November 2016. Participants were lecturers, students, and Public Relations (PR) practitioners from Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Nigeria, Sudan, Thailand, Australia, and the Philippines.

Dr. Elizabeth Goenawan Ananto, a PR Practitioner and Lecturer at the Trisakti University, Indonesia served as keynote speaker. She said that the more complicated an organization is, the more it is necessary to have an established communication and public relations unit. She added that internal communication is more important, this is to develop trust within the institution. “Eighty percent of the crisis comes from within the organization.Internal affairs should be given attention to avoid internal conflict.” Dr. Ananto also encouraged the participants to develop global mindset and tolerance for differences, while at the same time keep ones own identity. “Do not imitate, be who you are. Don't try to be white than the whitest. Be proud of your identity.”

As partner university, UPOU sent nine participants to the conference to present eight research papers, listed as the following:

  • Communicating with Prospective Students: Public Relations Media and Strategies of a University Information Office by Ms. Anna Ma. Elizabeth F. Cañas-Llamas
  • Exploring the Potentials of QR code as Mechanism to Validate Student’s Enrollment by Ms. Percia V. Secreto & Ms. Jennifer Belen
  • New Media in Education: A Communication Practitioner’s Role in Media-assisted Learning by Ms. Luisa A. Gelisan
  • Potentials of Social Media in Increasing Social Presence in Online Courses by Asst. Prof. Myra C. Almodiel
  • Promoting Community Development through Partnership: The Experience of a Communication Academic Unit by Ms. Emely M. Amoloza
  • Supporting Online Education: The Experience of a Communication Practitioner at the ASEAN Studies Graduate Program by Ms. Dona Lyn M. Piamonte
  • The Online Application System and Its Contributions to Operational Efficiency in an ODeL Institution by Ms. Percia V. Secreto & Ms. Marie Karen Enrile
  • The Use of Blogs and Comics as Student Support Communication Tools for Incoming Online Students by Ms. Jeniffer F. De Pasion, Assoc. Prof. Joane V. Serrano, Ms. Paula Grace M. Muyco & Mr. Christian C. Guevarra

Ms. Cañas-Llamas and Ms. De Passion were awarded the Best Presenters. (Luisa Gelisan, UPOU Multimedia Center)

Raymond D. Basilio, the first graduate of the UP Open University (UPOU) Bachelor of Education Studies (BES) program successfully passed the recent Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) for the Secondary Level held on 25 September 2016. Mr. Basilio belonged to the first batch of students admitted in the BES program under the Alternative Education Systems track in the first trimester AY 2012-2013. He graduated from the program on 30 July 2016.

The BES program is one of the three undergraduate programs of the UP Open University with specializations in Alternative Education Systems (AES) and in Instructional Design and Technology (IDT). It is offered fully online under the Faculty of Education. The program carries 141 units of course work taken over 4 years following a trimestral schedule.

”If we are to ever progress as a nation, I sincerely believe that we will need many more people like you,” Professor Fortunato T. de la Peña, Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), told the 151 course completers in his inspirational message in the Continuing Education Program (CEP) Closing Ceremonies held by UPOU’s Faculty of Management and Development Studies (FMDS) on December 03, 2pm, at the Centennial Center for Digital Learning (CCDL) Auditorium, UPOU Headquarters, Los Baños, Laguna.

Sec. de la Peña was instrumental in initiating the two longest running continuing education (non-formal) courses of UPOU—Personal Entrepreneurial Development (PED) and New Enterprise Planning (NEP)—which had touched the lives of over a thousand lifelong learners. He was the Director of the University of the Philippines-Institute of Small Scale Industries (UP-ISSI) when PED and NEP courses were conceptualized, developed, and delivered via distance education mode in the late ‘90s under the then School for Distance Education (SDE) of UPOU in UP Diliman. He also served as the first Course Coordinator of both courses when they were initially offered under the then Faculty of Management Sciences (FMS) of UPOU in 2002.

Expanding ICT application

At the start of his message, he noted how Information and Communications Technology (ICT) had broadened its applications. From Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), it has extended to highly technical and relevant scientific, technological, and creative realms. “My dear graduates, you are all shining testaments to the fact that ICT goes far and beyond BPO,” he stated.

A well-deserved praise

Sec. de la Peña also commended the course completers in his speech. He said that their achievement is worthy of praise as they have acquired skills that would help them in their chosen careers.

Bedrocks of a progressive society

Despite the diversity of the learner’s courses and motivations in taking up the course, he underscored that all of them share a common denominator—they are motivated and they all took the opportunity for self-improvement in UPOU. According to him, self-motivation and self-improvement, the two traits which he believes the learners possess, are the bedrock of a progressive society. Thus, he challenged them to share their knowledge and blessings for the benefit of the country and the Filipino people.

Government as primary arm in national development

He also emphasized that the government or the DOST, in particular, is always there to help the learners accomplish their mission. As Sec de la Peña said, the government has pledged to provide much greater support for the people who join them at the forefronts of national development.

CEP-related DOST programs

Sec. Dela Peña also shared some of DOST’s programs/services which are in line with business/entrepreneurship, agriculture, and rural development. These are the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP), OneStore, and innovative packaging assistance which all assist small businesses and start-ups; and the Smart-Agri Program and Food Innovation Centers located nationwide which help increase agricultural productivity especially in the rural areas. Completers of CEP can take advantage of these programs as they pursue their business or social development initiatives.

DOST: Producing high-quality science and engineering graduates

The abovementioned DOST programs would not be successful without the experts behind their implementation, Sec. de la Peña stressed. Thus, before ending his speech, he also took the opportunity to introduce two of the DOST’s key agencies which are known in producing high-quality science and engineering graduates. These are the Science Education Institute and the Philippine Science High School. Both offer high school, undergraduate, and graduate degrees.

After his message, FMDS Dean Dr. Primo G. Garcia, assisted by FMDS-CEP Program Development Associate Mr. Larry Cruz, awarded Sec. dela Pena a certificate of appreciation and tokens from the university as a way of thanking him for gracing the event.

The Faculty of Management and Development Studies of the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU-FMDS) recognized its course completers and top learners in the Continuing Education Program (CEP) Closing Ceremonies held on 03 December 2016 at the Centennial Center for Digital Learning (CCDL) Auditorium, UPOU Headquarters, Los Baños, Laguna. A total of 151 from 11 courses have complied with all the requirements for completion. Seventy-three learners received certificates for having completed their courses with distinction and high distinction. Asst. Prof. Rita C. Ramos, FMDS Secretary to the Faculty, facilitated the awarding of the certificates of completion/recognition.

The University of the Philippines (UP) formally introduced TVUP, the UP-owned and operated internet television network during its Public Launch on 24 November 2016 at the UP Executive House in Diliman, Quezon City.

Two University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) staff received Best Presenter Awards - Lecturer Category in the ASEAN University Conference on Public Relations and Communication (APRC 2016). They were Ms. Anna Ma. Elizabeth F. Cañas-Llamas, Information Officer, UPOU Information Office; and Ms. Jeniffer de Passion, University Extension Associate, Faculty of Management and Development Studies (FMDS).

The UP Open University (UPOU) hosted the Research Meeting of the OU5, a research group of five open universities in the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) Region, on 29 October 2016 at the Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay City. Part of the UPOU’s efforts for internationalization is to collaborate with different institutions for international initiatives. One of these is its membership in the OU5 whose aim is to conduct collaborative research and consultancy in areas of mutual interests, share data for the purpose of comparative studies, and encourage the exchange of academic staff in research areas of mutual benefits. The group was initially composed of the UPOU, Open University of Malaysia (OUM) and the Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University (STOU) in Thailand, agreeing to share knowledge, ideas and experiences in Open and Distance Learning. This resulted in the creation of the ASEAN Journal of Open and Distance Learning (AJODL). In 2015, Hanoi Open University (HOU) in Vietnam and Universitas Terbuka (UT) in Indonesia joined the research group. At the OU5 Meeting, thirty representatives from the participating universities attended the assembly, headed by Dr. Melinda dela Peña Bandalaria, Chancellor of UPOU and Incoming President of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU); Prof. Tian Belawati, President of UT; Dr. Nguyen Mai Huong, representing the President on HOU; Assoc. Prof. Somporn Puttapithakporn, representing the acting President of STOU; and Prof. Ramlee Bahroom representing the President of OUM. The meeting served as a venue to discuss the progress of the collaborative researches of the OU5, categorized into two Institutional Research and ASEAN Studies Research. Under the Institutional Research Category, three researches are ongoing on (1) Employer Satisfaction, (2) Student Persistence, and (3) Satisfaction and Perceived Learning Outcomes. Each of the participating university was able to update on the status of the study being conducted in their respective universities. Under the ASEAN Studies Research, two researches were identified as (1) Capitalizing on Open Education in ASEAN; and (2) ASEAN labor Migration Policies. The discussion under these groups focused on concretizing and funneling the objectives of the studies and the different literature that will be included in research. The discussions also included building a definite timeline for each research and taking note suggestions and comments representatives of the different universities. The OU5 Presidents also met to discuss and plan for the upcoming collaborative initiatives that the five universities can share. Some of the decisions that transpired was to affiliate OU5 with international organizations on lifelong learning such as the SEAMEO Regional Center for Lifelong Learning (SEAMEO CELL) where UPOU and HOU are already communicating with, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute of Lifelong Learning. In addition, there was a major call to publish the researches for recognition especially in the ASEAN context. The OU5 agreed to hold two regular meetings each year. The first meeting for 2017 is tentatively scheduled in March or April at the HOU. (Anna Cañas-Llamas with report from Ms. Alvie Alip)

At the 30th Annual Conference of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU2016) in Manila, Philippines, two concurrent pre-conference seminars marked Day 1 of the event. Three education experts were invited to discuss about learning analytics and open publishing for academics. This was held at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria on 26 October 2016.

Pre-Conference 1 was about Learning Analytics (LA) sponsored by the Digital Learning for Development (DL4D) Network with two of their Expert Group in Learning Analytics (EGLA) as speakers. Dr. Qiong Wang is a Professor of Educational Technology and the Director of the X-Learning Center at Peking University. During her talk on "Using Data to Improve the Design of MOOCs", she shared the results of their study on MOOC instructional design with intended data collection in mind and also discussed how the collected data can be utilized to improve the design of MOOCs.

Dr. Bodong Chen, Assistant Professor at the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota, led the participants in activities in Learning Analytics which covered topics on access to LA technologies and the effectiveness of LA in current researches, among others. He promoted active participation of the discussion using Padlet.com, a virtual bulletin board which allows collaboration among participants.

The second Pre-Conference Seminar is about Open Publishing for Academics by Dr. Laura Czerniewicz, Director of University of Capetown (UCT) Centre for Innovation and Learning.. Prof. Czerniewicz discussed the various concepts on open publishing in the academe. According to her, "open access" does not automatically mean "free", and does not mean that publishers lose copyright, a common misconception amongst academic researchers. She also talked about the current state of open publishing in the academe, and stated that a large number of academics still do not have a full grasp of what it means to be an "open publisher" in today’s day and age. Faculty, staff, and representatives alike actively participated in the discussion and the open forum, and issues on copyright restrictions, publishing fees, and the like were included in the discourse. Prof. Czerniewicz also encouraged participants to build and maintain their online academic profiles in keeping up with the digital age.

AAOU2016 is hosted by the UP Open University (UPOU) and was held on 26-29 October 2016 at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria with the theme "Open Education in Asia: Changing Perspectives". The four-day event was attended by 559 participants from 96 institutions in the Philippines and 24 countries from around Asia and the world. (Nikki Culing, Grace Buno & Anna Cañas-Llamas)

Professor Fortunato T. de la Peña, Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is the Guest Speaker in the Closing Ceremonies of the Continuing Education Program (CEP) of the University of the Philippines Open University's Faculty of Management and Development Studies (UPOU-FMDS). The event will be held on 03 December 2016 at the Centennial Center for Digital Learning (CCDL) Auditorium, UPOU Headquarters, Los Baños, Laguna.

The Closing Program features the awarding of certificates of completion/recognition for the CEP's 30th Batch of Personal Entrepreneurial Development (PED) and New Enterprise Planning (NEP), 22nd Batch of Caring for the Child with Special Needs (CCSN), 12th Batch of Simplified Accounting for Entrepreneurs (SAfE), 9th Batch of Organic Agriculture (OA), 6th Batch of Responding to Climate Risks in Agriculture and Natural Resources Management (RCRANRM) & Introduction to Electronic Commerce (eCom), 4th Batch of Satoyama (Living in Harmony with Nature), and 3rd Batch of Integrating Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management in Policies, Plans and Investments toward Inclusive and Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development (ICCA&DRM), Financial Management in Nursing Practice (FMNP) & Research Utilization in Nursing Administration (RUNA) continuing education (non-formal) courses. Around 143 out of 237 learners from the abovementioned 11 courses will receive their certificates of completion on 03 December 2016.

DOST Secretary de la Pena was the Director of the University of the Philippines-Institute of Small Scale Industries (UP-ISSI) when PED and NEP were conceptualized, developed and delivered via distance education mode in the late ‘90s under the then School for Distance Education (SDE) of UPOU in UP Diliman. He also served as the first Course Coordinator of both courses when they were initially offered under the then Faculty of Management Sciences (FMS) of UPOU in 2002. To date, PED and NEP are the longest running continuing education (non-formal) courses of UPOU which had touched the lives of over a thousand lifelong learners.

The CEP of FMDS is in support of the UPOU's objective of "providing opportunities for alternative access for quality higher education by offering baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate degree programs and non-formal courses by distance education".