Mount Carmel College-Baler: Partnering With Open LMS to Deliver eLearning in 2020 and Beyond

Mount Carmel College-Baler (MCCB) is a higher education institution in the province of Aurora, Philippines. Founded in 1948, the College began offering formative education and now offers Bachelor’s programs in Business Administration, Criminology, Teaching, and Administrative studies, among others.

Prior to 2020, the College had opted for in-person education only. When the need for online education became evident with the onset of COVID-19, MCCB chose Open LMS EDU as its online learning partner.

E-Learn had the opportunity to sit down with Heraldine Villamora, College Affairs Officer and Head of the Higher Education Department at MCCB to learn about the transition to eLearning. Villamora has been an educator at the institution for 24 years and has also served as Community Extension Services Coordinator, Research and Development Coordinator, NSTP Coordinator, and Business Education Program Dean.

How does MCCB use Open LMS EDU on a day-to-day basis and how many students does it support?

For the 2020 semester, Open LMS EDU served 1,140 college students across the program offerings. With the ongoing suspension of face-to-face classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Open LMS EDU ensured the continuity of teaching and learning delivery. It also served as a formal communication platform, not only between faculty and students but to the entire institution as well. The platform provided the much-needed means to ensure that students would have access to their courses online.

Can you share your experience with Open LMS EDU?

Prior to its adoption, online learning, or even the utilization of a learning management system, were never considered at the institution. Open LMS EDU has been revolutionary as it totally altered the way teaching and learning takes place at MCCB.

The platform not only serves as an effective online education technology tool amidst the suspension of face-to-face classes, it also complemented the creativity and innovation of faculty to respond to the individual learning issues and concerns of our students. Open LMS EDU helped MCCB to be responsive to students with the impact of COVID-19.

How has the institution attained such a strong track record in user adoption?

The curriculum across the Higher Education Department program at MCCB is continuously being recalibrated. That’s why Open LMS EDU was primarily adopted to institutionalize flexibility in teaching and learning and to ensure continuity in access to quality education for the students.

Can you share your journey to digital transformation?

With the onset of the pandemic, the Higher Education Department at MCCB—like every educational institution globally—had to explore and embark on new approaches to education. These include digital transformation and delivering quality education online in order to continue with our mission.

I believe that this journey to digital will allow our institution to remain relevant and continuously move forward.

Given the time constraint for preparations, everyone seemed hesitant and doubtful at first as to whether faculty and students would be able to adapt to the new teaching and learning modality. During the first weeks of implementation, faculty and students had many questions and challenges that needed to be addressed. Yes, it took time, but it allowed MCCB to live by its vision and mission, which is to persistently commit itself to contribute to the development of society by providing relevant and quality education.

We are already considering extending our adoption of Open LMS EDU as an instructional tool, even if in-person classes are allowed in the future. To this end, we are working with BEENET [MCCB’s learning partner], to have our Open LMS EDU site be further improved as a platform to also work as a communication tool for prospective students and with the community. In addition, we want to add features down the road that will enhance student engagement. We are also working on integrating open educational resources and, most importantly, on providing faculty the training on how to facilitate effective online learning. Lastly, we are working on improving our IT infrastructure.

Do you have any recommendations for institutions looking to start a digital transformation plan?

For institutions, particularly small colleges like us, I would recommend finding a provider that will not only guide and assist you since day one, but a partner that ensures ‘client success’ just like Open LMS has done and is still doing for us.

What are some of the major challenges the institution is currently facing?

Some of the major challenges are:

1) The economic impact of COVID-19 on our students’ families, which often adversely affects their capability to continue with their education/studies

2) Intermittent internet connections due to inefficient digital infrastructure, which somewhat constraints the full potential and benefit of digitalization of classes 

3) The uncertainty of what may happen and further disruption to everyone’s life

What about the best opportunities you identified in 2020?

The opportunity to go digital when it was never before mentioned in our planning—from an LMS that allows asynchronous classes to the possibility of exploring digital platforms that would allow our institution to continue with its mission, remain relevant, and continuously serve. This could be done while still providing personalized interaction with students and stakeholders despite not being able to actually see each other face-to-face.

Apart from the resources available to create course content, we are also using activities such as quizzes and assignments for assessment, the forum for interactive discussions, and internal messaging for announcements and notification purposes. As we are still adjusting to online learning, as well as the platform, we have yet to explore other features that I believe will further enhance student-teacher engagement.

Can you share what your relationship with BEENET is like and how they have supported MCCB, particularly in 2020?

BEENET is our LMS business partner and ensured that we are doing well and making the best of what Open LMS EDU offers. They are constantly checking in on us and asking how we are doing. This gives us the assurance that nothing will go wrong with our LMS platform.

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