In response to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to universities around the globe, the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) in the Philippines will soon launch a world- class Flexible Learning Hub (FLH) to facilitate the university’s shift to the New Normal academic environment.
MMSU President Shirley C. Agrupis has started to expedite the development of university facilities in line with the creation of the FLH.
“In order to really survive as an academic institution from the problems caused by the pandemic, we have to fast track the work banking on the power of the virtual environment,” she said.
Conferring with a team of academic experts, Dr. Agrupis rolls out the establishment of the MMSU FLH with state-of-the art facilities that shall essentially cater to the university’s academic mandate as it faces the pandemic.
“With this FLH, the University aims to be in the frontline in re-shaping the tools, resources, technologies, and infrastructure to responsively resolve the challenges in instruction amid the crisis,” she added.
Dr. Agrupis said that only about 20 percent of the country’s state universities and colleges (SUCs) are able to handle virtual learning, noting that this is based on the results of the survey conducted by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
“Because MMSU is cited as one of the few schools which currently have virtual learning technologies, we should accelerate the advancement of our facilities to cater not only to our constituents but also to other schools which may need our assistance,” she said.
The MMSU president said that the hub is designed to be a station where teachers can virtually meet their classes, work on their instructional materials and resources, and record instructional videos and audios, among other things.
Once operational by August, the hub will also become a haven for students to connect to fast-speed internet connectivity, use facilities to access resources and materials, have convenient discussion spaces, and cubicles for individual work.
In addition, while the creation of the FLH targets to cater to the technological needs of the University Language Center as it handles English programs among foreign students every year, the hub will be a strategic place for meetings and training workshops. Also, the university Distance Learning Program (DLP) will be facilitated in the said hub.
“The FLH shall further strengthen the ability of MMSU to widen the scope of the DLP,” Agrupis said, adding that it would also address the requirements of the University of Arizona (UA) to have MMSU as its micro-campus.
Recently, the UA in the United States has started exploring the possible application of a micro-campus model in the University in order to work out a joint venture of offering UA’s credit online courses with an MMSU on-campus experience.
“Because a state-of-the-art facility in MMSU is needed where students can interact with UA’s lecturers, the establishment of the Flexible Learning Hub is strategic,” Agrupis explained.
The facility will also be used to attend to the other foreign partner institutions of the University.
As of now, the University uses the MMSU Virtual Learning Environment (MVLE) for instruction.
For years now, a number of faculty members use the platform in handling their classes. In this line, faculty training will again be conducted next week by the UniversityInformation and Technology Center (ITC) to reinforce the full use of the MVLE by the faculty members.
In response to the concerns of some students who have limited media access, Agrupis assured that “the University will compassionately respond to this need by looking for ways on how to equip students with their needed resources.”
The hub will include virtual rooms, video, and audio recording bays, discussion rooms, faculty, and student lounges, and computer cubicles.
MMSU assures that the FLH shall be a sustainable project which will continuously promote the University’s mission ‘to develop virtuous human capital and sustainable innovations in a knowledge-driven global economy’ despite the current global health crisis.