Is the Philippines ready for the next evolution in learning technology and approaches?
Two words: NOT YET
I've been totally frustrated at this topic because sources for key research are very few. I may not be looking hard enough; but still, information and data on how the Philippines (particularly the public school sector) is utilizing elearning/mlearning technology and approaches are very hard to come by. But there's one fact that I do know:
FACT: The Philippines (at least the public sector - and even the population) is not yet ready for elearning and mlearning.
I'll be very honest. The Philippines is roughly ten years behind when it comes to learning technology. For example, schools and universities in the US, UK, and Australia have already set-up some kind of elearning system that allows them to reach out to more learners as early as the year 2000. Moreover, these institutions are already making these learning approaches as standards. As far as I know, in the Philippines, these systems are only limited to privately-funded institutions. I also know some contacts in the public education sector (and I have also personally observed some public schools), and unfortunately based on feedback and observation, there are no systems in use. More importantly, elearning/mlearning is received with mixed to negative reactions by most of my friends in the public learning sector.
I can also safely say that most of the population is not yet ready for elearning. I may not have survey numbers with me, but I can easily tell by experience. Most of the time, when people I meet ask me what I do for a living; and when I say that I design systems and create computer-based training modules - I'm always met with a blank stare. Then begins the long explanation of how learning management systems and elearning modules work.
So, what's holding the Philippines back? Three reasons:
1. Infrastructure - Sadly, the Philippines is included in the world list of having the slowest internet in the world vis-a-vis the price of service. For example Php1500 for a DSL service(roughly $40) will only give you a speed of 1.5Mbps; in the other parts of the world $40 gets you around 5Mbps or even faster. When it comes to public schools, only a few schools have access to elearning-acceptable internet speed - or have any access at all.
2. Access to Computers - The public education system has very limited computers. With the schools I've observed there are around 20 computers in a lab for the use of about 1200 students. Moreover, these are donated computers (which are a little out of date) operating on a very slow internet connection. More importantly, not all students have access to a computer (and internet) at home.
3. Culture - The Filipino learning culture is so used to face-to-face interaction. I may not have the numbers, but I've personally proven this quite a few times before. For example, when I was still working as a training manager, a client released a self-paced computer-based training module - only 12% of our employees passed. We did the same module using a facilitator-led approach - 98% passed. Same materials/module, different approach.
I am very hopeful though that with the ever-lowering cost of computers, devices, and technology, the Philippines can have a system in place soon - maybe within the decade. This hopefulness and change is what we at Minreeva are banking on - and hopefully we can help the Filipinos change the way they learn through quality education using technological innovations and better/cost-effective resources.