Saturday, June 2, 2012

Under Dynamic Learning Program, No More Boring Teachers, Schools and Homeworks

Say hello to the Dynamic Learning Program (DLP), which proponents say is not only the answer to perennial problems like the lack of public school teachers and textbooks and what might be boring learning sessions but also a 21st-century method that need not rely on high technology.

Students work on their own under DLP.  (Photo courtesy of

At least 157 public high schools in Basilan, Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental provinces are deviating from tradition by adopting DLP, a teaching technique developed by Christopher and Ma. Victoria Bernido, the physicist couple who earned the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2010.

The Dynamic Learning Program works on the principle of “learning is by doing”, it is student-centered, it’s a system of teaching that focuses on student activity rather than on traditional classroom lectures. The set-up is 70% student activity–30% lecture/discussion, and usually national experts do the majority of the lectures via video. The students learn independently, because each activity is provided with a clear, learning target.

The student will try to understand the lesson on their own by reading the concept notes and by doing the exercises before the lesson is discussed and explained. Some examples of student activities are solving exercises, answering guide questions and copying notes. Each student keeps a portfolio of his work as a representative documentation of his schoolwork. This would later on serve as his reviewer and proof also of his performance in school.

With this, the teacher just facilitate the learning and because they only facilitate they can now handle three classes at the same time on any given concept, for example Math. The program has resolved the problem of  lack of teachers since a single teacher can now handle more sections.

DLP is 70 to 80 percent student activities and only 20 to 30 percent lecture. It is designed to solve existing problems plaguing the academe like the dearth of qualified teachers, few or error-filled textbooks and the large number of students per classes in public schools.

The activity sheets form part of a student’s portfolio which will be the basis for grading a student’s performance. Students cannot take their activity sheets home so that the students can really rest and relax when they get home or help their parents in their livelihood.

And because so much work is already done in class, there is no more need to do assignments at home. The program also allows students a “strategic break” from academics every Wednesday, when they focus on physical education, music and arts classes.

Teachers can plan and prepare the activity sheets for the whole school year before classes start in June using DLP modules designed by the Bernidos. Even those who teach multiple classes may find it easy to follow the program.

In a DLP orientation video, Christopher Bernido further explained: “For example, (if) I have three biology classes, I (can) hold these classes simultaneously (even if I) cannot be in three places at the same time.  (Since) teacher intervention will be limited… the teacher would give a lecture for 15 to 20 minutes in one section, transfer to another section and lecture again for 15 to 20 minutes there, and so on.”

Just pen and paper
 No textbooks, notebooks or high-tech learning devices required—just pen and paper. Students may even write on the back of old calendars if they run out of activity sheets, which they can later file in different portfolios.

“It’s plain hard work. When we visited one of the schools (during the pilot run), I saw that the students even put rubber band or tape around their pens to have a better grip because they used their pens quite often,” said Smart public affairs chief Mon Isberto.

“And these self-driven students are the kind of students we need in the 21st century, students who can acquire new skills on their own,” Isberto said. DLP is “a no-tech but 21st-century method” that can work even “without textbooks or classrooms,” he added.

CDO experience
9,000 Cagayan de Oro high school students who had tried the DLP showed a “highly significant” improvement in their English, math and science tests in March 2012 compared to their test scores in June 2011.

The Cagayan de Oro experience mirrored that of students at CVIF, where the Bernidos first introduced the method in 2002.  Since adopting the program, the school has consistently produced successful examinees in the University of the Philippines College Admission Test (Upcat), considered one of the toughest college entrance exams in the country.

Stephanie Orlino, a community partnerships officer at Smart explained that it’s very encouraging. Despite the fact that we had birth pains in the first year and (Cagayan de Oro) experienced Tropical Storm ‘Sendong,’ and despite the fact that the students had only four academic days, with no homework and less contact time with teachers, they improved in all subject areas.

Judee Dizon, Smart’s program officer in CDO, said DLP also enabled seven high schools devastated by Sendong in December last year to bounce back immediately and resume classes the following month.

Smart is currently supporting the Bernidos by reproducing DLP materials and assisting the couple in training more schools heads and teachers via teleconferencing and other tech-savvy methods.

Isberto said spreading DLP is Smart’s first step in developing a generation of students best suited for e-learning. “Once you have these self-learning students gradually introduced to e-learning tools on top of the [DLP] system, these students will fly,” he said.

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