I was an aficionada of formal, traditional education half my life. I was trained and taught the ordinary way like that of any child or teenager in the 80s and 90s. Structured subjects, strict schedule, face-to-face social skills and direct interaction with the teachers and co-students were emphasized and given much more importance. However, with the birth of online education or distance learning, students or even professionals are given more avenues in pursuing their baccalaureate or post-graduate courses.

Recently, I was given a chance to pursue an online scholarship program GURO21 (Gearing Up Responsible and Outstanding Teachers in Southeast Asia for the 21st Century) by SEAMEO-INNOTECH and my perspective about teaching-learning is reshaped. I thought that after graduating from college and having units in masteral studies, I do not need to study further. I was definitely wrong. According to Brian Herbert, “The CAPACITY to LEARN is a GIFT, the ABILITY to LEARN is a SKILL, and the WILLINGNESS to LEARN is a CHOICE. And this is exactly how I felt while undergoing the online course. As I journeyed through GURO21, I have learned a lot of things.

First, FLEXIBILITY: I was able to mold my online class with my schedule. We meet just once a week, and submissions of assignments were given ample time before submission. I was able to choose a time that fits with my own schedule, as opposed to attending classes at a specific time every day.

Second, SELF-MOTIVATION and DISCIPLINE: I was all alone, and there was no one to check me. I could procrastinate or make someone else do it for me, even the chatting. But, who did I fool? Or what purpose would it serve? I needed to stay motivated and disciplined when learning from the comforts of my home. And it was a success

Third, SOCIAL INTERACTION: I thought that online learners do not grow fondness to their teachers and classmates. Though not so common, still it happened to me. Because answers were written in chats, there were a lot of healthy discussions. We reasoned, commended or agreed on other’s responses which we believed were good ones, and asked questions as well. I could always get back to our chat session’s transcripts for deeper understanding when answering assigned reading materials and modules.

Last May 10, I graduated along with my co-FLs (Flexible Learning) classmates and finally met my FLT (Flexible Learning Tutor) in person and my feelings were indescribable. It was the same feeling when talking and discussing with him and them on screen. Who says that there is meaningful relationship developed online? I do.

Of course, I still believe in face to face teaching-learning process because I am a teacher myself. Despite the technological advances, I can say that traditional education is equally relevant and fun with that of online learning. In-class settings may provide more opportunities for “spur-of the moment” discussions that may help in better comprehension of concepts, but so does online education too. Either way, it can help us teachers in achieving our hopes of becoming a “complete” 21st century teacher. I’m glad I did.

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