Three days before the opening of the second semester, the UP Population Institute (UPPI) organized an online open forum dubbed as “Zoom-ustahan sa UPPI: An open forum on remote learning experiences of UPPI students” on Friday, February 26, 2021 to assess the experiences of its faculty and students under remote learning.
“We hope to draw lessons to improve our system of delivering online teaching this coming semester […] We want to take this time to listen to and learn from each other’s experiences,” UPPI Director Dr. Grace T. Cruz said, noting that the Institute has successfully finished the last semester with zero dropouts, even in the face of the many challenges brought about by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
In the course of several adjustments adopted in the past year, Prof. Maria Paz Marquez conducted a study entitled “Ready, willing but unable: A mixed-methods evaluation of the remote learning readiness of UPPI students.” The findings, which Prof. Marquez presented during the forum, highlighted that UPPI students demonstrated enthusiasm to continue learning, but several concerns were raised. These include problems with internet connection and devices, minimal interaction between students and professors, and psychological distress from COVID-19.
Prof. Marquez also shared the recommendations by the student-participants of her study, which include holding weekend classes, providing regular feedback on students’ outputs, and organizing collaborative activities.
Supporting Prof. Marquez’s findings, graduate students present in the forum were also given the time to share their personal experiences. Master of Population Studies (MPOPS) students Ms. Katrina Guanio and Ms. Anna Amalia Brillante-Vibar, who both served as the event’s hosts, mentioned their troubles when successive typhoons hit the country last year, as well as the importance of the academic breaks introduced by the University. Ms. Renea Santos, also shared the challenges faced by the administrative staff. On the part of the faculty, Dr. Elma Laguna, UPPI’s Academic Program Coordinator, shared that the faculty themselves had their fair share of difficulties, including internet connectivity issues and the course pack requirements.
Towards the end of the activity, Dr. Laguna announced the recipient of the UPPI Academic Excellence Award for 1st Semester AY 2020-2021. Ms. Guanio earned a general weighted average of 1.0833 (9 units) last semester, the highest among all graduate students enrolled.
The two-hour event has been a fruitful and compassionate exchange between the faculty, students, as well as the staff of the UPPI, and serves to welcome the second semester, which officially begins on March 1.