The Faculty of Education (FEd), with the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (OVCAA), organized the 4th session of the University of the Future Virtual Round Table Discussion (UoF-VRTD) titled “Morphing of the Educational Landscape of the Future” on 08 January 2021 via Zoom. The presenters during the VRTD were Professor Ricardo Bagarinao, FEd Dean; Assistant Professor Roel Cantada, and Assistant Professor Juliet Aleta Villanueva, FEd Secretary to the Faculty and Program Chair of Diploma/Master of Social Studies Education.
Professor Bagarinao presented the “Implications of the morphing of the educational landscape on the instructional function of the University of the Future”. He discussed how various factors can affect the educational landscape, with labor markets, technological advances, and climate change as major factors. It was shared that automation and robotization is projected to create more work, despite misgivings. This entails responsive academic programs that will equip students and produce graduates with the necessary skills appropriate to the new industrial processes.
This also relates to the second major factor as artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots, and video learning are expected to dominate the future educational landscape. Professor Bagarinao also mentioned how AI will facilitate personalized learning which challenges the “one-size-fits-all” approach. Lastly, projections on climate change, such as changes in rainfall patterns, will continue to impact and threaten the education sector. Academic institutions will adopt climate change-resilient pedagogical strategies and offer degree and non-degree programs that will enhance societal resilience to climate-related hazards.
The second speaker, Asst. Prof. Roel Cantada, presented the “Implications of the morphing of the educational landscape on the research functions of the University of the Future”. He opened the discussion with the role of universities in innovation and sustainable development, noting multi- and interdisciplinary research and spaces for open exploration of ideas (and counter-ideas) to name a few.
Asst. Prof. Cantada’s talk focused on the adaptability of research organizations within and outside the University. He also noted the need to develop “future skills” in research so researchers can adjust accordingly amid changing contexts. These future skills include self-organization, competence, and networked organizations. With these skills, researchers in the University of the Future can create flexible systems that can respond to disruptions. One suggested solution is the application of Distance Education (DE) concepts, where distance furthers the development of virtual laboratories, deconstructs research tasks, and accelerates innovations to “extend the human senses… beyond audio and video”.
The third and last speaker, Asst. Prof. Juliet Aleta Villanueva, presented her topic “Public service through the FEd-Continuing Education Program (CEP)”. She opened her discussion with questions on the role of the Faculty and the University arising from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and inspired by conversations with UPOU faculty members. She urged FEd to reflect on “who our students and graduates are because of the teacher education programs we craft and the kind of teaching and public service we do.”
Asst. Prof. Villanueva suggested to package continuing education programs in a manner that matches the realities of its marginalized beneficiaries who are “full-time, on-the-go, community-based education workers, para-teachers, freelance tutors, teachers, and teacher-leaders.” She discussed an “immediate” and “practical” solution where non-formal short courses can be administered using a bottom-up approach that recognizes prior learning so that it leads them to formal teacher education courses. She added that with these programs, learners take charge of their own learning. She also briefly discussed how the Gurong Pahinungod program can be improved to better address realities.
Her suggestion, according to Asst. Prof. Aleta, challenges the agility and openness of UPOU. As mentioned earlier by the first two speakers, Asst. Prof. Villanueva also advanced questions about UPOU’s autonomy by touching on challenges in admission and curricular proposals and changes at the UP System-level, noting the rigidity of the policies and processes.
With UPOU faculty and staff as contributors in the open forum, they were also able to explore flexible learning pathways such as personalized learning experiences (PLE), recognition of prior learning (RPL), microcredentials, course pack development, and an improved independent learning (IL) track that UPOU can offer.
As moderated by Mr. Jabez Joshua Flores, all three speakers emphasized the pressing need for UPOU to integrate flexible and open systems if it wishes to morph into the future of the educational landscape.Since November 2020, the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) has launched the UoF-VRTD Series to articulate and visualize UPOU as a University of the Future. The initial discussions organized by the OVCAA with the faculty offices centered on quality, disciplinal dimensions, and sustainability. Information on the discussion series is also available at the UPOU website.