The second semester of the academic year 2019-2020 brought a lot of confusion to the academe. With classes suspended indefinitely and lockdowns implemented all over the Philippines, there had been mixed feelings regarding the pandemic and what will become of the academic setting. The question of how to continue education with the same quality and excellence through remote learning has been a challenge. The University of the Philippines Diliman Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (UPD ROTC) led by the Cadet Officers, took the challenge to innovate and deliver quality ROTC training online.
The UPD ROTC Cadet Officers, coming from different places, voluntarily billeted for a month in the UP DMST barracks to prepare for the 1st semester of the A.Y. 2020-2021, which is fully-online in compliance with the OVCAA-ECA 20-580. The planning began with the revision of the program and method of instruction to fit the online learning environment — some instructions were postponed, and some completely discarded. After the planning came the creation of the coursepacks which included video lectures, handouts, assessments, and interactive games. Several professors were invited to be guest lecturers for NSTP Common Module subjects such as Environmental Protection, Disaster Risk Reduction & Management, Philippine National Security, and Human Dignity & Rights. The Corps of Cadets developed their own Learning Management System (LMS) based on Moodle that can be accessed through learn.uprotc.org. This is where the course packs were uploaded and organized per module. The Corps also launched their Youtube channel at U.P. Diliman Reserve Officers’ Training Corps , where video lectures were uploaded. All of these were done within August 2020 at the DMST Complex, where Cadet Officers produced quality learning materials at par with the quality of military instruction they provide in a face-to-face setting.
In September 2020, the online semester started. The Corps LMS was used for all asynchronous modules and assessments. Each module was set to be accomplished within a week, along with assessments that included quizzes, forums, and file uploads for assignments. If there is one thing that is indispensable in the UP ROTC experience, it is the friendships developed within the Corps. To preserve this experience, synchronous sessions were held wherein Cadet Officers, Sponsors, and cadets interacted with each other. To boost the morale of cadets, Cadet Officers conducted Physical Training sessions and Sponsors facilitated Sponsors’ Time where cadets can exercise and play games. It was designed as an outlet or a break from the stress of online learning. Aside from Zoom sessions, LMS, and its Youtube channel, the Corps utilized numerous resources to maintain an enjoyable but effective learning environment. Some of these are through Flipgrid, Facebook, and Quizizz.
Throughout the first semester, challenges came up as part of the administration of online training. The Cadet Officers and Sponsors remained steadfast in motivating the cadets to complete their modules and participate in synchronous sessions. The month of November 2020 proved to be the biggest challenge of the semester when numerous typhoons struck the country one after another. Some cadets were among the most impacted. In consideration of their situations, the Corps sent printed course packs to some cadets in Catanduanes and Isabela who were affected by the calamities. Module deadlines were extended, and some assessments were canceled. Despite the rough end of the year, the Cadet Corps held strong in its mission of providing training to its cadets.
The second semester of the academic year 2020-2021 is just around the corner, but the pandemic is still ongoing. The UPD ROTC Corps of Cadets conquered the challenges of the shift to online learning. For the second time around, equipped with the knowledge and experience from the first semester of online training, the Cadet Officers — student leaders of the Corps — will strive more in delivering a better and more inclusive learning experience. Upholding its shibboleths of Duty well-performed, Honor untarnished, and Country above self, UPD ROTC will live on to its pride of being the pioneer of ROTC training in the country, and now, a pioneer of online ROTC.