by Melvin G. Calimag
A World Bank-backed non-profit group has inaugurated a new computer laboratory at a top Mindanao university to train teachers and would-be teachers in the region for the integration of ICT in education.
The new facility at the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSUIIT) in Iligan City was funded by World Links Philippines and implemented through the Foundation for Information Technology Education and Development (FITED).
The laboratory, dubbed World Links Philippines Training Center, has 11 networked computers and broadband Internet access. The project has a total cost of P500,000 but the bulk of the money will be spent on teacher training, according to MSU-IIT chancellor Marcelo Salazar.
The computer laboratory in MSU-IIT is the first of six World Links Centers that are scheduled to be launched by the end of June in various parts of the country.
The labs to be launched are in Western Visayas College of Science and Technology in Iloilo, Saint Louis University College of Education in Baguio City, Mariano Marcos State University in Laoag, the Department of Education Province Division Office in Cebu City, and the Cordillera Regional Science High School in La Trinidad, Benguet.
The MSU-IIT lab is expected to serve as a resource hub for in-service and pre-service teachers. In-service refers to teachers currently employed in educational institutions, while preservice pertains to college students majoring in education.
Specifically, the facility is intended to train teachers and educators for the effective use of new technologies to enhance classroom learning.
At the heart of the center’s program is a four-phase training curriculum for teachers and teacher educators on digital literacy, instructional design of ICT-enhanced activities, and computer- and Web-supported educational collaboration, which will be delivered by MSU-IIT master teachers trained by World Links Philippines.
The computer center at MSU-IIT has a target of 95 trainees in 2008-2009, 100 trainees in 2009-2010, and 80 trainees in 2010-2011.
Liezl Formilleza-Dunuan, FITED deputy director for programs and research, the setting up of the computer center is a reward for MSU-IIT for completing various IT-related education projects and for demonstrating its ability to equip teachers in the area with the proper ICT skills.
According to Dr. Emmanuel Lagare, vice president for academic affairs of MSU System, the school started its IT education initiatives “long ago” also as a way of assisting teachers from Iligan and nearby areas.
Lagare said the university has taken part or currently participating in different undertakings such Intel Teach program, Project POSITIVE (Philippine Open Source Initiative), and the iEskwela program of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology.
Lydie Paderanga, dean of the College of Education where the lab is located, said her own college has been consciously upgrading the ICT proficiency of its students.
“We have, in fact, complied with the administrative order from the government to increase the units of educational technology as a subject from three units to six units,” she said.
Paderanga said 80 percent of their 1,700 education students are science majors. “As a whole, MSU-IIT has the highest concentration of science and technology scholars in the whole of Mindanao,” she said.
Following a three-year implementation plan developed by MSU-IIT with FITED, the center will deliver teacher professional development workshops to teacher educators, pre-service teachers and in-service teachers in Lanao del Norte and the rest of Northern Mindanao.
In addition, the lab will spearhead the development of ICT-supported instructional materials, provide pedagogical support and mentoring to local teachers and teacher educators, initiate and support research activities in the area of educational technology use, and conduct community outreach activities.
World Links Philippines is part of a Southeast Asia-wide program of the international non-governmental organization World Links, which has extensive experience in Africa, Latin America, and the Arab region in developing local capacity for ICT-curriculum integration.