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MAAP advances into online teaching and learning

Academy president, Vice Admiral Eduardo Santos, shares how academic instructions quickly migrated to remote virtual world and enhanced their system vital to support requirements for curricular programme

Maritime schools have faced the biggest challenge in their operations during the pandemic.

Since covid-19 spread across the globe in mid-March 2020, maritime schools pondered on a major decision of how to pursue their academic mission in these uncertain times. Many of the schools have temporarily ceased operations, others got lucky enough to continue holding classes online or distance learning.

The Department of Education said a total of 865 private schools across the Philippines have suspended operations since September last year due to the pandemic. Some reasons for the closure include failure to comply with safety protocol, minimal low enrollment turnout or no student at all, and general lack of preparedness for the conduct of distance education.

At the AMOSUP-run Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP), the school and its students have considered themselves “blessed” to overcome the challenges brought about by the pandemic, according to Vice Admiral Eduardo Santos (AFP, ret), the president  of MAAP.

“Thankfully by the grace of God and the full support of AMOSUP, MAAP was strategically more prepared for these challenges,” VAdm Santos said during a recent graduation ceremonies at the MAAP campus at Alas-asin, Mariveles in Bataan.

In Central Luzon or Region 3 alone, where the academy belongs, 141 private schools had shuttered. VAdm Santos indicated that regulatory bodies namely CHED, MARINA and the local government units of Mariveles and the province of Bataan expressed surprise that MAAP was operating. “All of them (the authorities) were well-informed that MAAP never stopped operation,” he exclaimed.

Amidst the lockdowns, VAdm Santos recalled, MAAP’s academic instructions quickly migrated to remote virtual teaching and online learning. “Students and members of the faculty quickly transitioned to teaching and learning in the virtual world, enhancing online instructions and facilitating student engagement through Google classroom and Zoom, managing activities and administering assessments for the academy’s designed students’ electronic assessment system.”

At the same time, however, he noted that the cadets were battling personal feelings of general uncertainty, unexplained anxiety and intermittent homesickness. With no exceptions, the academy’s “faculty and students weathered the storm successfully.”

With the support of AMOSUP president, Dr Conrado F Oca, MAAP managed to prioritise the improvement of the school’s internet access and wifi connectivity in all the classrooms and ensured that all students got equipped with digital tools for learning.

“We’ve enhanced our learning management system. We have over 400 CBTs with Youtube downloads and our own production,” said VAdm Santos, explaining that these are vital support requirements needed for their curricular programme.

Outside the virtual classrooms, the academy’s 1,200 midshipmen busy themselves through various community projects such as gardening, engagement in social activities like e-games, modified sports and other civic actions that promoted mental health and wellbeing.

The MAAP president extolled: “From all these innovations it can easily be said that apart from the absence of face-to-face classroom sessions, one would think that it was a normal day in MAAP as it was during pre-pandemic days. And that is because the cadets are centre of gravity even when in a COVID-free bubble.”

With such arrangement, the academy also enabled to successfully graduate the first batch of 119 cadets last June 2020 and received 441 new students of the class of 2024 last September 2020.

Yet all of these could only be made possible with the help of special people whom the academy shared the success of their students. They include the parents for their guidance and moral support to their children and to the academy over the years, the management, for their thrust in their particular time, the faculty and staff. SF