When digital classrooms become reality


08:36 PM March 14th, 2012

By: Matikas Santos, March 14th, 2012

John Bessey, Microsoft Philippines Managing Director, and Esther Vibal, Chairperson of the Vibal Group of Companies, shake hands during the Annual Innovative Education Forum organized by Microsoft to seal the partnership between the two companies.

MANILA, Philippines – Can you imagine a classroom without chalk and blackboard, manila paper, cartolinas, one-fourth sheets of paper, pencils, erasers, and attendance sheets?

The leading Philippine educational materials publisher Vibal Publishing House Inc. and international computer software company Microsoft have not only imagined it, they are working on making that a reality.

Vibal and Microsoft, in cooperation with the Department of Education (DepEd), have partnered to create a new kind of classroom set to enter the digital era.

They are making this possible through the introduction of e-textbooks that can be accessed by students on tablet computers.

Chris Datol, operations manager of Vibal’s subsidiary Vibe Technologies Inc., said during the Annual Microsoft Philippines Innovative Education Summit last March 2 that “a child becomes smarter when he or she uses a digital device and consumes digital material.”

He cited a study conducted by the United Nations who found that students “exhibited better performance” because of the highly visual and multimedia content that tablets can show to students.

E-textbooks will have multimedia features like educational videos, full-color pictures, instructional audio content, customizable text, interactive quizzes, online connectivity allowing external links to resource websites, study tips, and many more.

Teachers will be able to use the annotated teacher’s edition of the e-textbooks that includes a lesson guide, answer keys, and teaching tips to help the teacher guide the students in using the e-textbooks.

Schools in Korea utilize tablet PC’s for students while teachers use “intelligent” white boards, Datol said. A survey of UNESCO rated Korean’s as the most intelligent digital readers “because they know how to search for online content and adapt new skills especially in using technology,” Datol said.

In June of 2011, Vibal distributed 1,000 tablets to public school students in Laguna that have built-in Rizaliana classics. Dubbed as “eRizal” tablets, they were distributed in commemoration of the 150th birth anniversary of the Philippine National Hero, Jose Rizal.

Foundation University in Dumaguete purchased eight Vibal e-textbooks for their iPad 2 units in July of 2011.

In September 2011, La Salle Greenhills rolled out an entire digital curriculum from their elementary to high school honor classes using 14 e-textbooks in 500 Galaxy Samsung tablets. La Salle will issue another 5,000 tablets in 2012 to cover all students and teachers.

Digital tools for teachers

Michelle Casio, the Education lead of Microsoft Philippines, said that they not only would improve the learning process of the students but also the teaching process of the teachers.

Microsoft offers various digital tools for teachers and school administrators that are “60 to 80 percent [discounted] compared to commercial pricing,” Casio said.

“It’s about giving the value. If you have our software … there are a lot of tools that can be attached for free,” Casio said.

She reiterated that “it’s not about making money out of the schools or out of the students. It’s about sharing the technology [and] it’s about learning.”

“Our priority really is to equip the students and the teachers [to] help them in the teaching and learning process,” Casio said.

During the summit, several school administrators shared their experiences of using digital tools in the academy.

Miriam College shared their experience of using a number of programs from Microsoft for their financial system.

Benhur Ong, Dean of the School of Management and Information Technology of College of Saint Benilde, shared how they were able to integrate technology into their curriculum.

“We need to adopt technologies that will help increase the employability of our graduates,” Ong said during his speech.

Investment weight

Casio said that “most of the weight of investments of Microsoft [for] education” was in the public schools.

“Our focus is the DepEd, because it is more than 90 percent of the [education] population,” Casio said.

As of the 2010-2011 school year, there were 38,351 public elementary schools and 7,268 public highschools, the latest figures obtained from the DepEd website showed.

On the other hand, there were 7,613 private elementary schools and 5,682 private highschools.

Casio said that they were not focusing on private schools because “they can take care of themselves, they have money and resources.”

“But we are not disclosing the private schools, we also help them,” Casio added.

Through all the partnerships and investments being poured by Microsoft into the education sector of the Philippines, classrooms, regardless of whether in a private or public school, might one day find no need for chalks and blackboards. A digital classroom will no longer be something that is left to the imagination.

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  • Islaslolo

    How about after-school hours? Can the student take home the tablet PC since they don’t have printed books?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000532465679 Donardo Cuago

    I just watched a report over at CNN about this school right in Silicon Valley that has been focusing on old-fashioned teaching techniques…as in ABSOLUTELY NO HIGH TECH GADGETS!  

    The curious part is a lot of this school’s students are children of employees of the IT industry!  They realized that no amount of hi-technology can ever replace the value of HUMAN INTER-ACTION.

    • turin55555


    • Islaslolo

      I agree that good interpersonal relations is a fundamental requisite for a great society and great world. This is the reason too that most parents in the US invest in their children’s preschool education even if the cost is about the same as college education. And each community invest in a playground and/or a park where children can play and interact with their peers and older people too.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VKJ2VQO3R6XTR4DFNWY6WOFLXE Pixel

    di ito uubra sa mga math, physics at iba pang pang applied sciences na books. Mas applicable lang mga tablet sa mga subject na mga social sciences. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/AJICBWE7YPRZ3BPZZ3ERU7AVMY Melany

    i am very much into this evolution of teaching-learning process! –(teacher-wanna-be)

  • Jevie de Guzman

    Casio said that they were not focusing on private schools because “they can take care of themselves, they have money and resources.” It is not true that the private schools can take care of themselves. There were many ESC (Educational Service Contracting) grantees or government scholars in private schools that are very poor. These poor students wanted to avail of the ESC in private schools because they wanted a better quality education and a disciplined school campus compared to public schools. Mr Casio might be correct if he talks about private schools in general. An example of the school that I am preferring to is our school “Malasiqui Agno Valley College” All our students avail of the ESC grant and students fees were too minimal that it is almost the same as studying in public school.
    Mr Casio maybe referring to private schools in Manila. Most private schools in the provinces cater also for poor students who prefer a quality education that they could not get from public schools.

    • Islaslolo

      Shouldn’t the government improve the public schools including the colleges and universities so that we can cover the all of our student population?

  • PoorOFW

    Focus on the fundamentals first instead of this tablet fad. Improve language and anaylitical muna. Me tablet ka nga mahina naman ang communication or math skills at hindi pa marunong magn isip critically or creatively. You need to be careful buying into this ‘using tablets will make you smarter’ crap. Kung walang love of learning in the first place ang studyante, no amount of tech will help you.
    Perhaps our educators can take a page, no copy the whole darn curriculum of Waldorf schools. They hardly use any tech in their teaching yet they produce the best kids, imho.

    • Islaslolo

      I view the tablet PC as a tool only. You’re absolutely right that communication skills, critical thinking and problem-solving competence are important. That’s why I believe that the curriculum must be well-thought of and the teachers are properly and continuously trained.

  • http://joboni96.myopenid.com/ joboni96

    para makabenta ang microsoft
    ng sangkaterbang software at
    ma windows addict ang mga bata

    use open source like bayanihan linux ng dost
    refurbished hardware murang mura
    turuan pa ang mga bata ng computer repair at recycling
    sangkaterbang content din ang nasa dost

    gaming deped mode na naman
    ang mga dayuhang i.t. companies
    for more profits
    repatriated to their own countries

    resulta miseducated pilipinos
    sumasamba sa western values

    create walled garden pilipino content
    for the pilipino youth

  • jm20_510

    Just focus on the quality of teachers and the quality of book materials. We don’t really need this tablet technology in schools. These tablets are not suitable replacement of paper and pencil when it come to lessons or exams that involve mathematical computations. 

    I do not like studying at home using tablet. I will stick to the basic paper book which I can easily mess up with writings. Owning this technology do not guarantee that the student knowledge will be more advanced compared to others. Its only main benefit for me is convenience. In the end, it is up to the students on how mentally equipped they are in understanding the lesson.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/THPA4TLGTVO4UY2WU7A5MZY5C4 Mikka

    The idea of having tablet-based readings irks me. Of course technology has no doubt been able to increase efficiency and convenience of work, and obviously contributed to faster and easier ways for communication. However, shouldn’t the education sector of this country focus more on providing its students with the BASIC and RIGHT materials? What will be the fate of those who cannot afford this technology? 

    I believe this to be an absurd idea at this point in time, when what is needed is not aesthetic improvement but the development and improvement of information and knowledge. And mind you, it is a scientific fact that people read 25% slower on digital devices than on books.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NWTWAWQO7MWPOD75YHMUCR2IWU Mux

      Please link us to the source of this scientific “fact”. I prefer reading on digital devices rather than books because it’s easier to search for something by just pressing Ctrl-F and easier to flick through pages. 

    • roadworthy

      Mas maganda if we can be adept sa old way and the digital way. Too much dependency on one method would be a big mistake. Take the old way, mapagiiwanan ka. Too much tech would be struggle in the absence of such.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NWTWAWQO7MWPOD75YHMUCR2IWU Mux

      I got an email alert that you replied to my comment but I don’t see it anywhere. What was it? 

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/THPA4TLGTVO4UY2WU7A5MZY5C4 Mikka

        I stand corrected at 25%. Stats show that it only goes up to 10.7%. Nevertheless, slower still. 

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NWTWAWQO7MWPOD75YHMUCR2IWU Mux

         That’s ok. You can sit down now. :)

  • Joana Keylargo

    I can also imagine students who can not write even their names anymore and tons of broken tablet computers in a pile. Since tablet computers are made of plastic, schools can forget about teaching students environment conservation. 

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