4 out of 5 UPLB students unfit for remote learning – USC survey

EDITOR’S NOTE (August 18, 2020): The article was edited to include how the survey respondents were selected, and the reasons behind that decision. The purpose of each different survey was also included.

EDITOR’S NOTE (August 19, 2020): The article was edited to include a link to the USC’s Facebook post that discussed their surveys’ findings, in addition to correcting the number of respondents from ‘928’ to ‘929.’

Two surveys conducted by the UPLB University Student Council (UPLB USC) and local college councils showed that the majority of UPLB students are not prepared to partake in remote learning. 

One survey measured the needs of students to determine if it is appropriate to shift to remote learning. With 929 respondents, 4 out of 5 respondents said they do not have a home fit for remote learning. Respondents noted having a lack of learning space and unreliable Internet connectivity, experiencing family problems including domestic violence and abuse, and them and their families experiencing financial instabilities. 

The second attempted to observe the respondents’ physical and mental wellbeing in relation to the lockdown’s impact and shift in modality. With 1,530 respondents, 2 out of 5 said they do not have stable internet connections, while 1 out of 5 said they lack the equipment necessary for remote learning such as laptops or smartphones.

Both surveys used convenience sampling in order to gain respondents. The reason for this decision was due to time and accessibility concerns.

UPLB USC also said that the online method of enlisting courses proves itself to be ineffective. This is because students, without the adequate resources needed, are struggling to complete the necessary requirements needed to make them eligible for the enlistment of courses, especially with the impending online pre-registration. According to the UPLB USC, this situation will worsen further once remote classes begin.

In a meeting on July 30, 2020, the Board of Regents (BOR), the highest decision-making body of UP, decided to pursue remote learning for Academic Year 2020-2021. 

The UPLB USC slammed this as neglectful due to the resources available to the students, faculty, and staff, saying that pursuing remote learning is a “disservice” to the constituents of UP, considering there are at least 5,600 students cannot afford remote learning and will require financial assistance.

Moreover, the survey showed that it is difficult if not impossible to adapt certain courses for remote learning. Some courses require utmost supervision and guidance from professors, requiring them to be available all the time.

For instance, laboratory classes require community immersion, face-to-face interaction, and learning resources physically available only in the laboratories of UPLB. Furthermore, according to the USC, students also deemed the system of self-paced learning ineffective for some courses and cannot guarantee quality education. 

The UPLB 5-Point Student Demands paper, revised by the Council of Student Leaders (CSL) on August 10, revealed that several other surveys and consultations conducted by student councils and the Rise for Education Alliance UPLB (R4E) show that the majority of the students are not in favor of conducting remote learning.

The student demands called for  postponement of the resumption of classes, psychosocial help for students, faculty and staff , the use of alternatives to remote learning, as well as proper state services including mass testing, financial support for teaching and non-teaching staff, the approval of all maximum residency rule (MRR) and readmission appeals, the upholding of democratic rights and student representation, and the halt to all school fees collection, proposed school fee increases and budget cuts to education.

Initially, it had six points when it was first published by R4E last June 28. These include not having classes until there is mass testing, careful reopening of classes through the provision of a revised curriculum and psychological support, and approving all pending MRR and readmission cases.

The paper also reveals that several students pointed out that, based on their experience in the second semester of Academic Year 2019-2020, the use of remote learning methods are ineffective.

UPLB USC called out the UP admin to recognize the concerns of the students regarding remote learning, and to make plans that consider the capabilities and limits that the students have amid the pandemic. [P]

Photo from UPLB Official website

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