Distance learning training for teachers gets $250,000 Google grant

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 19 2020 06:15 PM

Single parent Merly Villasanta works on enrollment forms for her four children using a computer with internet connection on July 1, 2020 in Antipolo City. All four of her children will be using different gadgets to satisfy the requirements of distance learning their respective schools will be implementing. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - With government prohibiting in-person classes to avoid exposing learners and educators to the risk of COVID-19, teachers need to undergo upskilling in order to adapt to new ways of remote teaching, said Education Secretary Leonor Briones.

"With the pandemic and our efforts to blend various approaches to education, our teachers also need upskilling and upgrading," Briones said Wednesday at a virtual event of Google for Education-Philippines.

It was on the same event that Google Philippines Country Director Bernadette Nacario announced that the tech company would be giving a $250,000 grant to help train teachers in the delivery of "inclusive" distance learning.

The grant will be given to INCO Education Accelerator and the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC), which will conduct the training program.

The program, according to AIJC president Ramon Tuazon, will equip teachers in providing distance education through online and printed modules.

Learning through printed modules can be supported through communication between learner and teacher via text messages, said Tuazon.

"We have mobilized 18 coaches who will train teachers on how to develop digital and printed learning materials," he said.

Google for Education Senior Program Manager Aileen Apolo said the company was also working with the Department of Education to help nearly 22 million public school students access G Suite for Education.

"Lahat ng (all) learners will have their own accounts so that teachers can continue distance learning together with their students," she said.

G Suite for Education is a set of free Google productivity and collaboration tools tailored for schools.

Google Philippines marketing head Gabby Roxas noted that telecommunication companies have come up with affordable data packs so students and teachers could access education apps.

"With the launch of these new packs... it's possible for students to connect to the internet on a daily basis," he said.

Roxas added that the tech company would also be conducting training for YouTube content creators that make educational videos.

"They will receive tips and tricks, production techniques and best practices... in terms of how to develop high-quality content that's geared towards education," he said.

In-person classes have been suspended as the Philippines continues to grapple with the threat of COVID-19, which has so far infected over 173,000 in the country.

The Department of Education set the opening of classes in public schools on October 5. Private schools, meanwhile, are allowed to start classes earlier.