MANILA - Philippine universities and colleges will no longer return to traditional face-to-face classes as the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) adopted a policy to continue flexible learning in the years to come.
Bringing back face-to-face classes will expose educational stakeholders to the "same risks if another pandemic comes in," CHEd chairman Prospero de Vera said Friday.
It also "would have wasted all the investments in technology, in teacher training, in the retrofitting of our facilities," De Vera added.
"From now on, flexible learning will be the norm. There is no going back to the traditional, full-packed face-to-face classrooms. The commission has adopted a policy that flexible learning will continue in School Year 2021 and thereafter," he said in a webinar.
The "old paradigm of face-to-face versus online will now disappear," he added.
"What will happen is a flexible system where universities will mix and match flexible learning methods appropriate to their situation," De Vera said.
"The more prepared universities will continue investing and moving ahead using online platforms. Others will be allowing some of their students to come back at specific periods and do more synchronous versus asynchronous learning."
Innovations and adjustments are emerging as the digital divide "exacerbates difficulties in adjusting to flexible learning," De Vera said.
"Both students and faculty members are able to adjust to flexible learning better now than before," he said.
Teachers must now "realize that the old norms are gone and they must adjust to new standards," he added.
"That means an openness to engage and spend time with students and use of new technology that we make conversations better and deeper."
De Vera said there will be "a transition from the exam-based system that depends on knowledge creation to group work and project or task-based systems, particularly in determining how to grade our students, and textbooks will no longer be the sole source of knowledge.”
In-person classes in the country have been banned since last year as precaution against the spread of the coronavirus.
The commission earlier urged colleges and universities, some of which are used as vaccination sites, to inoculate their frontline workers against COVID-19.
The country is targeting to vaccinate up to 70 million of its population by the end of the year to achieve herd immunity. As of May 15, some 3.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.