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Taguig City Mayor Lino Cayetano / PNA

Taguig sets up  'teaching hubs' 

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As face-to-face classes remain suspended due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, the Taguig City government has transformed an initial 10 classrooms of the Taguig City University (TCU) into "teaching hubs" on Wednesday, according to a report by Philippine News Agency.

This is also part of TCU's "Sharpened Online Learning" program, TCU's comprehensive response to ensure quality tertiary education in the time of Covid-19.

Each "teaching hub" is equipped with studio equipment as well as a technical team available to assist faculty members conducting live online classes. The facility may be used to prepare videos for synchronous and asynchronous sessions.

"The local government of Taguig City through the City Education Office improved classrooms to meet teachers’ needs using resources available onsite - adapting their materials, technologies, and styles for efficient and effective teaching that fit into the demands of Covid-19 and the new future in education," Mayor Lino Cayetano told reporters.

The teaching hubs also have cozy lounges and coffee bars to give teachers an extra energy boost.

“Ultimately, we want our students at TCU and in the whole public school system to learn, even when the setup is different. Understanding that the adjustment can be difficult, we have made sure to introduce measures that would ease the burden on both educator and learner,” Cayetano added.

The city government also distributed 8,700 computer tablets to TCU students as part of their efforts to bridge the digital divide.

Cayetano said this would provide opportunities for growth outside the academic setting.

The students may use the devices to conduct research, do self-paced virtual learning, or even seek part-time employment.

Aside from computer tablets, the city government also released allowances amounting to PHP5,000 to PHP10,000 to TCU students.

The city also distributed almost 300 computer tablets to all the full-time and part-time faculty members of TCU so that educators would not feel left out in the digital leap.

These efforts are still part of the "Sharpened Online Learning" program, Cayetano added.

The TCU faculty will link up the teaching hubs to an online framework specially designed by respective colleges to deliver quality education.

Teachers will conduct virtual classes through the Taguig Online Resources & Community Hub learning management system (TORCH-LMS), closely related to the system used by education authorities in Ontario and Calgary in Canada, and Ohio, Georgia, West Virginia, Alabama, and New York in the United States.

Preempting a migration to the virtual platform due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the local government prepared the TCU faculty and non-teaching staff by getting them through online courses with Skillsoft, an international online education program provider. This service was provided through the Training and Enrichment Courses from Taguig Online Campus or TECTOC.

Faculty members also underwent training for online learning using LMS with Computer Assisted Learning Philippines.

Among educational reforms implemented in the city is the LANI Scholarship Program, which was established by former mayor and now Rep. Lani Cayetano wherein financial assistance is provided to thousands of deserving college students.

For 2019, the budget for this scholarship program increased exponentially to PHP675 million, with over 57,318 scholars.

She also made TCU 100 percent tuition-free, and implemented the grant of a PHP5,000 per semester allowance for all students.

“We have always prided ourselves for being one step ahead in our preparations for the Covid-19 pandemic, and the education system is no exception,” she said.

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