Category Archives: Keynote Transcripts

How to Ensure Learner Safety in Online Learning and in Hybrid Set-up

Two years into the pandemic, the landscape of education has never been the same. Having to teach online, one of the biggest concerns is security, especially for our learners.  So why do we value it in the first place? Because we value data and information. We want our students to be safe, to ensure continuity in learning even online. This also applies even if we do a hybrid or face-to-face setup since we would still continue using online learning tools and gadgets in our schools.

But this would also mean that there are vulnerabilities and vulnerabilities lead to exploits. In the past years, attacks have been relentless. There’s cyberbullying, zoombombers and hackers, and malware attacks.

The question stands, “how do we ensure learners’ safety in online learning?”

P.I.E Framework (Key points) :

  • Policies
  • Infrastructure
  • Education

POLICIES- it is the course of action and guidelines that we should follow in order to ensure learner safety.

1. Review your country’s policy. (In the Philippines, we have the Data Privacy act, Cybercrime Law, and Child Protection Policy.)

 2. Review your school’s policies as well if these are aligned with the existing laws. If there are none, teachers and stakeholders can lobby for laws to ensure learner safety in online learning. Schools can then tailor fit their policies that are aligned with the national policies and their context. 

INFRASTRUCTURE- is the backbone of education and technology. By improving infrastructure such as devices, network connections, and safety features, we add extra layers of protection for students.

1. Recommend specs for devices used by students.. 

2. Make an inventory on efficient and appropriate apps and websites for classes. 

3. Enable security features of software and device. Use external technologies like MDM or Mobile Device Management to manage the screen time and the devices of the learners. Using MDM, teachers get to restrict designated apps during synchronous sessions. In this way, students are guaranteed to focus in class and not get distracted by other external apps that are not needed during class. Parents can also avail its services so they can monitor and restrict the screen time of their children so students can balance their school-leisure time. 

EDUCATION- Digital citizenship and learner safety should be staple topics that should be integrated into the curriculum and be taught in workshops.

1. All stakeholders of educators should be learn and apply digital citizenship. We can partner with computer teachers and school formators through modules. There are also free resources like for students to go through. Security topics are discussed like not sharing passwords, not putting sensitive information online, talking to strangers in the internet, and other practical ways to protect one’s identity online. 

2. We should strengthen home-school partnership which is a collective effort to monitor and guide students how to navigate the online world

3. We should work together with school formators co-educators to create an ecosystem of safe and secure learning environment through providing socio-emotional support for students and proper-handling of incidents such as academic dishonesty and cyberbullying.

As adults tasked to protect the security of our students, we must do work-arounds and strategies based on improving these 3 key points in order to ensure learner safety in online learning and hybrid set-up.

Special thanks to: T4 Education founder Vikas Pota and staff, Moderators Andria Zafirakou and Jim Tuscano, and my co-winners Ana Elicker from Brazil and Candelaria Durruty from Argentina


How Pixar’s “Soul” Reminded Us About Finding One’s Purpose

If you happened to watch the latest Pixar’s gem, “Soul”, then you’d know it is indeed good for the soul. (pun intended) Here are 5 lessons that we can take away from it and how it reminded us about finding one’s purpose. (Warning: This article contains some spoilers ahead!)

Your passions and traits make up who you are. But this doesn’t mean you are only defined by the things that are important to you. Like in the movie, the things we are passionate about make up a chunk of our personality and we do have that one special passion that inspires us to move forward in life, that is our spark.

Mentorship and sandboxes are important. For us to find our spark, we find inspiration in everything, like the things we love to do or the persons we look up to, for example is our mentors. It is a healthy relationship between mentor and mentees, sharing and passing along knowledge and guidance to be successful in the field. At times, our mentors can help us find our spark.

However, in Filipino culture, there is what we call Padrino System where one gains favor or a promotion by means of family affiliation or friendship, and not because that person is capable and competent. We need to veer away from this kind of system and create a mentorship culture especially in our workplaces and institutions.

In the Kdrama “Start-up”, startup companies had mentors to guide them as they ventured into business and idea-based solutions and were never afraid to try new things because they had Sandbox, a fictional safe place, something like a Google Campus, where they can learn, collaborate, experiment, fail or succeed. Like a sandbox, they were not worried to fail and fall on a hard ground, because they knew that Sandbox is their cushion so they would not get hurt. But there is no Sandbox in the real world. What we can do though, is to define and create our own sandboxes—-places and people who support us no matter what such as a community built in the workplace, friends and families.

Being in the zone shows our strengths and weaknesses too. Have you ever felt joy while finishing a module with ease? How about doing so good in playing a video game or a sport and that gave you immense excitement? That’s what it means about being in the zone. People find joy and bliss while in the zone because they are doing something very skillfully and easily. 

One character from the movie then asked, “But, what if that joy becomes an obsession?” If I may add, what if it becomes a source of anxiety and exhaustion, which gives us a feeling that we aren’t our best anymore? All these feelings and mental states lead to burnout.

Recovery is the key against burnout. When we can’t control our passions anymore, sometimes they consume and burn us out . According to Rahaf Harfoush, a digital anthropologist, there’s also a pandemic-induced burnout magnified by a culture of overwork, distraction of internet and social media, and prolonged lockdown.

Few tips from experts to recover from burnout or prevent it too:

  • Pay attention to discomfort.
  • Recovery is as valuable as work.
  • Give yourselves time and self-care.

Your IKIGAI is something only you can define. In the Philippines, a famous coffee commercial boldy asks, “Para kanino ka bumabangon?” (To whom do you wake up for?) For me, this is a good reminder about inspiration, but sometimes, this question tends to be overly-romantacized and just disregards the other factors on why we are doing things and just continue living anyway.

Unlike in Japan, there is a concept called, “IKIGAI” meaning a reason for being. “IKI” literally means life and “GAI” means purpose. It originated from Okinawa, the birthplace of KARATE. Interestingly, it is also the place with the most number of 100 year-olds alive. The discipline of Karate and life expectancy of Okinawans tell us something about living a purposeful life through finding your ikigai.

As my organization say, it is a sweet spot, an intersection of profession, passion, mission, and vocation. Some may argue that the ikigai diagram is not accurate and just a western misrepresentation of Japan’s ikigai, but I do believe that this can be just your sample treasure map in finding your own’s purpose. At the end of the day, it is us who will define how are we gonna live our lives and find our purpose.

Sometimes we get caught up and focus too much on the idea of “para kanino ka bumabangon?”. When we always look at the big picture, we forget the little things that matter which can eventually lead us to a lifetime of joy. It’s okay for us to take a step back from our dream and enjoy the little things in life and to live life every minute of it.

“Pour your time and passion into what brings you the most joy, your mission in life”.

Marie Kondo , tidying expert

The Power of Stories: Finding Hope in these Trying Times

Last month, through EmpowerED live discussion, I had the opportunity to talk to Jim and his amazing friend Elisa Guerra, along her daughter Ana Rogu. They are a writer-illustrator/mom & daughter duo who made the book Hope Where Are You, an anthology of stories from 6 children around the world who are coping and finding hope in this pandemic.

This is a non-verbatim transcript of my answers during the live discussion:

Live Discussion with Jim, Elisa and Ana

How does storytelling help to develop literacy skills and guide students to practice empathy?

When we look at our ancestors, they used orature to transmit learning, culture, traditions, and even entertainment. And that still rings true up to this day. We are using storytelling for same prurposes,  and as a crucial way of developing literacy skills: for example it enhances their vocabulary, listening skills, reading and understanding, among others. In these difficult times, telling our stories is needed more than ever. My mentor before has always told us that literature is the reflection of society: and telling and learning these kinds of stories is a gateway that would help our students understand the society they’re in, help them touch with our own roots and culture, and developing their emotions, feelings, and even empathy towards others. 

This can be done when we teach them how to empathize with the characters and make connections, understand themes and morals, appreciate  reading : all these things can contribute to their lifelong values growing up and may affect how they see the world.

What are the challenges in translating the book into Filipino? How can teachers make use of the book in their literature classes?

The challenges in translating the book is that the english language structure is different from Filipino. The semantics, the words have varied meanings in the language, and so, when we were trying to translate the words and the stories there is always a dilemma on how much we localize and contextualize the words without really removing the voice of the characters and its original authors. 

Another thing is that the cultural aspect of the book, for example: the names of food like chapati, or different traditions like child marriage,  yoga, and these things and concepts should be properly represented and explained in the translated version of the book. Nevertheless, Jim and I  really enjoyed translating and this is a testament on how rich our language is and this work made me appreciate our translators snd teachers because translating is not just work, but a work of art.

Filipino teachers can use this book as a reading material to develop reading comprehension:  because number 1. It is timely and relevant, it speaks about the pandemic and different cultures of coping in the eyes of children 2. It speaks about hope, resilience, mental health, and call to action which can also inspire, be learned and replicated in their own lives . This can also be used as a source material for authentic assessments, by teaching our students how to empathize to the characters, tell their own stories of hope, and create solutions which are also applicable in their own lives.

How can we further help children and the youth in coping with the pandemic?

We can help children cope with this pandemic by designing learning continuity programs that are sustainable and are based on the contexts and needs of our students. All teachers should be reading teachers, it is macro-skill that can be used across multiple disciplines and so in these trying times, let’s prioritize developing literacy skills and utilizing literatures that would enable them to develop empathy, social-emotional learning skills, and self care even if they are just at home. Let’s make reading a safe haven for our students to go beyond the four corners of their homes and reduce the loneliness and anxiety brought about this pandemic. By helping them appreciate reading, they learn more about themselves and the world.

Just like in these stories, the youth needed adults and people who would take good care of them, and trust them, and at the same time , empower them to do great things even if they are still young.

BONUS: Along with my best of friends from TITSERYA, we made a live storytelling of the book that teachers can use as their teaching material or can simply be enjoyed by both young and adults.

Pag-asa Nasaan ka Livestorytelling by Titserya


NOTE: This is a non-verbatim transcript of my insights during an equity-based conversation on learning during & post-covid with my co-fellows from Teach for All network.

These were my insights to the following questions from the panel discussion:

  1. The pandemic has really pushed us to examine the purpose of schooling and what we need to prioritize when we think about enabling our students to navigate the present and the future. What are some of the needs you are seeing experienced by your students during this time?   

Answer: I was reminded by an independent report written by my good friend Jim and other global educators to the UNESCO about Thinking about Pedagogy in an Unfolding Pandemic: they wrote about MASLOW before BLOOM. This should be the norm on how we go about our learning continuity program; our government, our institutions, our schools, should look into the needs of everyone fist: the physiological needs of students and families affected by the pandemic, health and safety of everyone, job securities, and socio-emotional being & mental health. From there, we proceed to decide what are the necessary learning continuity programs should take place. The needs assessments also clearly indicate the need for equal access to technology and connectivity,  prioritizing education budget,  and the readiness of the students, parents, and teachers.

2. As a result of the pandemic, educators everywhere have needed to innovate and adapt to a ‘new normal’. How are you seeing that happen in your context or doing so in your own work, particularly in terms of leveraging technology for learning? 

Answer: Educators and school leaders are able to design their learning continuity programs in such a way that it would suit the context of the students and the resources of the community.  When we opt for online and online distance learning, we use technology to establish and maintain the learning environment.  Teachers are also using technology to reduce the loneliness and anxiety brought by this pandemic by designing learning programs and use tech tools that enable feedback and interaction. More concrete examples: Some LGU’s are handing out tablets to teachers and students. Different learning modalities such as broadcast-enabled learning through televisions and radios for far-flung areas, and learning packages for remote learning are being rolled out. One thing to note is that how teachers are also finding their own ways to leverage technology. For example, they are using Facebook messenger for interaction and communication, in fact Philippines is world leader in social media usage.

Different institutions and individuals are finding ways to be creative and resourceful, and so it is a collective effort and partnership between stakeholders to make learning successful.

3. What are some things that continue to be true for your practice of teaching and what are some that have changed as you and your students grapple with this new reality?

Answer: There is a divide, a digital divide and access to quality education even before the pandemic, and so this difficult time just widens it more. And so what remains true is that we should plan long term goals in mitigating these equity issues so we can close the gap because we don’t want our students to be left behind. As for me, it is a personal process, to be able to sustain your personal values as teachers on how you practice your teaching in a different context or learning modality. We have to understand that we are navigating through uncharted waters, we are in a storm which is the pandemic. Some of us maybe are in a yacht, some are on sturdy boats, some are on rafts, some are even clinging tightly on their logs, and some may even be just swimming around. We should work together and understand others where they are coming from.

4. As educators, what gives you hope right now and what is your vision for the education system in your contexts in light of this new learning?

Answer: I truly believe that teachers and schools should continue to have that growth mindset and grit especially in these trying times. My vision is that teachers are embracing the fact that their roles as educators are changed by the pandemic. This is a litmus test for everyone. Will we rise to the occasion and take on the challenge?  A lot of veteran and new teachers are learning apps and tech tools,  attending multiple webinars, adapting contextualized layering in their curriculum designs by creating online and offline resources to be used in their respective learning continuity programs.                       

At the end of the day, as my organization, Teach for the Philippines always say, “Education is everybody’s business” and it rings true, especially the government and the very institutions that uphold our societies in place.

Virtual bumps and high-fives to our fellows in Teach for All Network: Rachel, Archana, and Sreyleap for a fun and meaningful conversation!

I am very grateful for Teach for the Philippines, , Teach for All, Xavier School, and LearnTechAsia Conference for giving me the opportunity to be part of this equity-based conversation on learning during these trying times. June 18, 2020, I was able to share and use the lens brought about my experiences and context teaching in the public school and now in a private institution being an edtech coach and literacy advocate.

It was so nice to hear that we are not alone, that what’s happening particularly in Southeast Asia and some areas around the world resonates with our context here in the Philippines. The inequity such as digital divide and prioritization of needs are prevalent, and this pandemic widens that gap even more. But this also allows our teachers and school leaders rising up to the occasion, becoming not just educators, but navigators and frontliners of learning.