Education made more accessible in the Philippines through the UPOU Networks
An announcement made by the University of the Philippines (UP) highlighted how the UPOU Networks provided a collection of UP-created educational content online paving the way for Philippine education in the digital age.
UP Open University (UPOU) Networks is a University-produced online repository of multimedia learning materials, both open and proprietary.
UPOU Chancellor Melinda Bandalaria said, “This is not just an index or listing of links to learning materials, which is quite common. This is a collection of UP-created content which we are disseminating online and sharing with everyone.”
A diverse selection of content will welcome anyone who accesses UPOU Networks. They are:
(1) UPOU Live – contains events that the University broadcasts in real time like lectures, symposia, research presentations, and seminars.
(2) UPOU on Record - contains a collection of podcasts and other audio materials.
(3) UPOU Commons – contains the Open Educational Resources (OERs) under a Creative Commons license.
(4) UPOU Mix - contains learning objects on numerous topics in diverse formats.
OERs have contributed to the improvement of access to quality education, which was recognised by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) .This encapsulates the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 which states, “To ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
The Open and Distance Learning Act has recognised the efforts of UPOU in pioneering the OER movement in the Philippines.
The Open and Distance Learning Act is the policy of the State to expand and further democratise access to quality tertiary education through the promotion and application of open learning as a philosophy of access to educational services, and the use of distance education as an appropriate, efficient and effective system of delivering quality higher and technical educational services in the country.
UPOU Information Office Director Joanne Serrano shared, “Not many people in the Philippines know about OERs, which is why the University needs to work even harder for this revolutionary education movement to take root and prosper.”
One of the main issues concerning quality education is accessibility. UPOU embarked on a mission to widen access to its resources with the Universal and Inclusive Accessibility Program. The objective of the program is to adhere to UNESCO’s Guidelines on the Inclusion of Learners with Disabilities in Open and Distance Learning.
In order to meet this guideline, UPOU Networks should consider readability across different devices and browsers as well as varying availability of computer peripherals.
Mr Edison Sevilla, an information systems researcher at the UPOU Multimedia Centre, explains that readability requires design flexibility, which means that a website conforms to the size of the screen, may it be a computer monitor, a tablet, or a smartphone.
He adds that among other accessibility solutions, they are also exploring text-to-speech options for those who are visually impaired.
To further expand access to the online repository, the UPOU Networks mobile application was recently released. “It really needed to be user-friendly with just a few clicks or taps and fewer swipes, etc.,” Mr Sevilla says.
The UP led open and distance education in the country with the establishment of UPOU in 1995. Developments in technology have improved how teaching and learning are done as well as how information is imparted. UPOU Networks is paving the way for the Philippine education in the digital age.