Mapúa leveraging its key online resources and support platforms for balanced virtual student life
The pandemic has drastically reshaped education. With COVID-19 cases still being reported daily in the country, students continue their studies within the confines of their homes.
Online or remote learning, like all new concepts, has a significant learning curve. Students need to have discipline to focus on their lessons since teachers are far away. Hardware and connectivity requirements must also be available for them to participate in classes.
Most schools and educators are doing what they can to make online classes easier for students. In the case of Mapúa University, it has meticulously optimized its learning delivery system so students will find virtual classes less stressful and more inviting.
Aside from giving senior high school, undergraduate, and post-graduate students access to powerful and enterprise-grade educational software and vast online resources, the university devised a system that encourages academic-related interactions and collaborations between students, allows for teacher consultations to help students cope with school work, and of equal relevance, promotes a fun-filled student life even while learning at home.
For Mapúa Senior High School (SHS), students work in groups for performance tasks and laboratory reports. Regular teacher consultations, tutorials, and chat groups on collaboration tools or social media make learning sessions more personal to students. Class advisers conduct weekly one-hour homeroom sessions after class hours so students can discuss any concerns that they might have.
“Interaction among students is important because it helps build their social and communicative abilities and makes them feel that they belong. Most of the teachers have already been conducting group activities even before the online classes started. They check their students as often as necessary and are usually the first ones to reach out to them to offer assistance,” said Dr. Lilibeth D. Sabino, principal of Mapúa SHS.
This emphasis on collaborative learning is also seen in Mapúa’s undergraduate and post-graduate programs. Despite travel restrictions, students can still join virtual international cultural activities, webinars, joint classes, collaborative online international learning (COIL), summer programs, and an online English party organized by Mapúa’s Office of International Career and Exchange Programs (ICEP).
“Since the pandemic, we’ve partnered with companies through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and other institutions in Japan, Australia, and Hong Kong to implement our virtual international OJT program (ViOJT). To date, we have a total of 18 partner companies, and 21 students have been deployed as of the first quarter of 2021,” said Engr. Rosette Eira E. Camus, director of ICEP.
The University is also offering free peer advising or tutorials in Math, Physics, Chemistry, and other professional courses through its Center for Student Advising. Tutorials are done online via messaging and connectivity apps.
“We cater to students referred by the guidance counselors and to those who voluntarily request assistance. We help students cope with course requirements to maintain their good academic standing,” said Arlene C. Macatuggal, RGC, RPM, Mapúa’s director for student advising and counseling.
Because all work and no play do not bode well even for the most studious of scholars, Mapúa also ensures that it continuously organizes virtual events where students can decompress and feel that they are still part of a fun-loving school community. They are treated to institutional activities such as the Foundation Week, University Week, FroSHS Week, CineMapúa, Paskong Mapúan, and other events that promote social and cultural development and unify and uplift the student body.
“Institutional activities promote camaraderie, unity, sense of pride, and community spirit while providing an opportunity for the Mapúa student body to have fun,” said Dante J. Sauquillo, director for student affairs. “Student organizations are instrumental in keeping the school spirit alive.”
The university currently has 70 student organizations that focus on academic, religious, socio-recreational, and socio-civic interests. The most active clubs this season concentrate on hobbies and interests like theater arts, dancing, singing, gaming, and community development.
However, burnout is still a reality for some students. The solitude, health risks, and uncertain times may lead them to experience mental, physical, or emotional stress. Mapúa’s Health Services Department offers free online medical consultations for all enrolled students. They also initiate health awareness campaigns.
Mapúa University’s holistic approach towards online learning is a good template for how education should look and feel like for each Filipino student. It is also proof of the institution’s dedication to providing excellent, globally competitive instruction to all of its students.