Mapúa leverages on online resources, support platforms for balanced virtual student life

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THE pandemic has dramatically reshaped education. With Covid-19 cases still being reported daily in the country, many students still 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 from them. Hardware and connectivity requirements must also be available for learners to participate in classes.

Most schools and educators are doing their best to make online classes easier for students. In the case of Mapúa, 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 postgraduate students access to powerful and enterprise-grade educational software as well as vast online resources, the university has devised a system that encourages academic-related interactions and collaborations among 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 1-hour homeroom gatherings after class hours, so that students can discuss any concerns that they might have.

“Interaction among students is important, because it helps build their social and communicative abilities, [while making] them feel that they belong,” said Dr. Lilibeth D. Sabino, principal of Mapúa SHS. “Most of the teachers have already been conducting group activities even before the online classes started. They check on their students as often as necessary, and are usually the first ones to reach out to [the young ones for assistance].”

This emphasis on collaborative learning is also seen in Mapúa’s undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Despite travel restrictions, students can still join virtual global cultural activities, webinars, joint classes, collaborative online international learning or 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 and other institutions in Japan, Australia, and Hong Kong to implement our virtual international on-the-job program,” revealed Engr. Rosette Eira E. Camus, director of ICEP. “To date we have a total of 18 partner-companies, [as 21 students have been deployed by] the first quarter of 2021.”

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 those who voluntarily request assistance,” said Arlene C. Macatuggal, RGC, RPM, Mapúa’s director for student advising and counseling. “We help students cope with course requirements to maintain their good academic standing.”

Because “all work and no play” does 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. With this in mind, Mapúa’s Health Services Department offers free online medical consultations for all enrolled students. They also initiate health-awareness campaigns.

Mapúa’s holistic approach toward online learning is an ideal template of the way education should look and feel like for each Filipino learner. It is also proof of the institution’s dedication in offering excellent, globally competitive instruction.