Low Down on the High-Tech: Flaws of Computer-based Education

The supposed advantages of computer-based education have been blurred by commercial interests. In this sense, promoting technology as a catch-word to attract would-be students is nothing more than a marketing scheme, designed to lure prospective clients to a substandard education.

BY JOHN RAPHAEL FULGAR
Philippine Collegian
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 27, August 12-18, 2007

Sa iyo, hangang hanga ako, sa iyo, natuto ng husto, sa iyo, matutupad ang mga pangarap ko…” (I admire you so much, I learned a lot from you, you will help me fulfill my dreams.)
“ACLC Assoc. Grad gets the job!”
“The future is right here, right now. Evolve!”

The advertisements are legion, invading the airwaves and enticing the nation with sweet promises of fulfilling dreams, masking their profit-driven schemes under the illusion of providing Filipinos the means to achieve their ambitions.

Institutions like the AMA Computer University, STI College, ABE International, and others claim to accomplish this through “world-class” computer-based education.

The cited schools promote the use of the latest technology to provide accessible IT expertise and various
“marketable” degrees.

These promises, however, are merely confined in the realm of marketing and promotions. Concerns have been raised continually over the apparent expediency with which the said institutions conduct their educational programs. And with the expensive price tag that comes with it, various groups have dismissed the claim to computer-based education as a mere commercial venture.

Hollow Promises

Virgil*, a BA Philippine Studies graduate currently taking up MA Philippine Studies, was once offered a teaching position as Online Instructor in one of the cited institutions. He eventually resigned after realizing that the school’s intentions were purely profit-driven.

He used to teach Humanities, Filipino and Art Appreciation in front of a camera, which was broadcast to the student populace. His other activities included uploading reading materials, quizzes, and exams to a designated website. He lamented that he was not given any time or system to evaluate if his students actually learned anything.

Aside from being able to save on the cost of maintaining salaried faculty, the system may also enable the administration to keep tabs on the instructor’s lectures, making sure that they stick to an expedient curriculum.

Sa simula pa lang, nagdududa na ako sapagkat hindi pa sinasabi ang rate namin, magpipirmahan na ng kontrata” (Right from the start I had my suspicions because they asked me to sign the contract even without discussing our rates), Virgil recalls. “Ineexpect ko na magiging mataas ang rate ko dahil magkaka-masteral na ako maliban sa iba ko pang qualification. Pero one week bago magsimula ang klase, nalaman kong P180 ($3.93 at an exchange rate of $1=P45.74) per hour lang ang rate.” (I was expecting a high rate because I am about to finish my post-graduate studies aside from my other qualifications. But one week before the classes started, I learned that I would be paid a mere P180 per hour.)

Students who belong to poorer demographics, moreover, were left to grapple with the technological divide without adequate support from the university, Virgil stressed. Approximately 13 out of 24 computer units per room were functional, which is atypical for an institution whose programs rely heavily on computer resources.

Virgil added that copiers were broken, and that the cultural fee paid by the students was only used for very rare events. If the high tuition and assorted fees pay for unfelt and insufficient services, and the salaries of the faculty are relatively low, it only leaves the students to wonder what they are actually paying for.

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