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Efren Peñaflorida, CNN Hero of the Year

First Posted 09:32:00 11/25/2009

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I am putting Efren?s name in the title because he deserves all the limelight and accolades. Not only has he put our country on the global stage again, his efforts at helping the poor though education is simply heart-warming, inspiring and worth emulating. On top of these, it is amazing to see how a young man?s efforts get fulfilled with relatively minimal financial support. It goes to show that passion and not money is the key driver to any successful endeavor.

I have always believed that education is by far the greatest equalizer in society. We have heard many great stories about how people or even communities are able to rise above economic difficulties and move up the social class by having a good education. Good education empowers people, allowing them to become who they want to be and achieve their full potential. As Efren Peñaflorida eloquently said, ?There are always heroes within each person.? Indeed, a well-equipped person can best bring out the hero in himself.

As I think about education, I have always wondered why it seems that the use of technology within our education system is low. While our schools now offer IT in their curriculum, integrating IT into their process and way of teaching is still in its infancy.

Successfully blending e-learning into schools' teaching methods can bring a lot of advantages. Assignments, for example, can be posted and accessed online. If online, instructions can be accurately transmitted to students and parents alike. This is important for kids who, in many cases, receive the wrong assignments or don?t receive them at all. Online materials would also mean that learning can go on should there by class disruptions. A good adoption of e-learning would have helped many Manila-based schools during the last semester when Manila had many calamities and unplanned holidays. Another advantage would be distance learning, which allows schools to optimize the teaching resources they have. Subject expert in Manila, for example, can go online to provide special sessions to students who may be in the Visayas or Mindanao.

The list of advantages can go on and on. But one particularly long-term advantage I would like to point out would be the fact that adopting e-learning forces teachers and students alike to be IT savvy. It provides a better perspective to young students on how IT can be used for better purposes other than games and Facebook, thereby integrating this perspective into their future endeavors as they grow up. This, in turn, opens up new opportunities in the exploration of new applications in technology.

I am not advocating that e-learning replace traditional teaching methods. Like any new technologies, I have always pushed the idea of using new technologies as new channels of experience. In this case, e-learning has to blend into traditional teaching to achieve greater success. We leverage the efficiencies of e-learning while at the same time harness the nurturing nature of traditional teaching methods.

The call is for school administrators to have a serious second look on e-learning. The investment will not be primarily on money as there are open-source e-learning applications available on line. Rather, the investment will be the time and effort to integrate the new process into the current school curriculum and practice. The investment will be on the effort to change the mindsets of the current crop of teachers. As Efren Peñaflorida reached out to the heroism in each person, we can do the same with each teacher. That would not be difficult to do as all teachers, with the dedication and sacrifice that they do every single day, are already everyday heroes and thus have all the hero qualities we are looking for.

Please read more about Efren Peñaflorida. Get to know him and his work at dynamicteencompany.org and at http://edition.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/


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