How to make online learning effective?

How to make online learning effective?

Joel Santos ( – September 28, 2020 – 10:04am

Second of a five-part series

MANILA, Philippines — How to make online learning effective?

The rush to put education online amid the pandemic is unprecedented. Academic Institutions that have little to no experience with it are forced, within a couple of months, to throw together online programs for its students. As a result, complexities that ordinarily would be considered for such a critical shift, may not have been prepared for or even thought about. This has resulted in the hashtags among students such as #AcademicFreezeNow, and #AcademicEaseNow.

Thames International School had two years of blended and online learning experience in partnership with Singapore edutech companies before the pandemic. This head-start allowed Thames International to “survive” the school lockdowns by the government last March 2020. As such, 9 out of 10 Thames students said that the institution’s online education was an effective academic alternative since face-to-face classes were suspended. 

As part of its Bayanihan effort to contextualize and share its learnings, Thames International embarked on an Action Research Project on Online Learning Effectiveness involving nine (9) schools all over the country. 

Around 200 Senior High School Students from the nine institutions mainly, University of the Cordilleras (Baguio City), the University of St. Louis (Tuguegarao City), San Pablo Colleges (San Pablo City) Nova Schola (Tanauan City), Capitol University (Cagayan de Oro City), Ateneo de Davao University (Davao City), Rizal Memorial College (Davao City), STI Colleges (Gen. Santos City), Bukidnon Faith Christian School, Inc.(Valencia City) participated in the Thames research project that was sponsored by Globe Telecom. The students who were mostly “first-timers” in online learning went through two weeks of online classes with experienced and Singapore certified online lecturers from Thames. 

The key highlight of the research result was that“64% feel that online learning is the way to go in continuing their education during this pandemic.” This conclusion was borne out of the components of online learning used by the Thames lecturers such as:

  • Online content that was visual, clear, and accessible. 
  • Majority of the asynchronous content was in video format.
  • Collaboration and knowledge networking with classmates were done through group work and projects. 
  • There was a good balance of both asynchronous and live sessions 

A student participant reiterated the above in her comment, “Group work became more meaningful for both teachers and students since all of us were challenged to cooperate and socialize with others as well.”

Despite the positive results above, challenges still came up for the students as first-timers to online learning. These are the feeling of isolation, adjustments to the new teacher-student roles in a virtual classroom, lack of “netiquette” or internet etiquette of some students, and the proverbial connectivity issues from time to time. 

A student highlighted the new roles between students and teachers when he shared, “During the first week of online classes, it was difficult for me because I was not used to having a conversation with a teacher online and taking activities online. I had a hard time balancing my time doing household chores and taking classes online; nonetheless, Freejoo (LMS) provided modules and video presentations that would help students understand the lesson.”

Our recommendation based on the results of the study coupled with the Thames experience are as follows:

  1. Teachers need to learn content development tools to be able to deliver the interactive and engaging educational materials the students require.
  2. Teachers need to find the right balance between asynchronous content and the live/synchronous sessions and ensure that they are spaced out accordingly. 
  3. The students’ socialization activities must be given priority and be part of the migration to a virtual experience similar to academics. 
  4. Conduct orientation of classroom management between students and teachers.

Thames International would like to support 500,000 teachers nationwide in their online teaching journey through the HEROES 2021 Project that seeks to rapidly train both public and private school educators on the skills needed to succeed in the “new normal.”  The project has been launched and implemented in DepEd NCR region led by Regional Director Malcolm Garma with more than 10,000 teachers trained. The second region to start with the training is DepEd Bicol Region led by Regional Director Gilbert Sadsad in partnership with the office of Vice President Leni Robredo.

To ensure inclusiveness, our corporate partners Unionbank, CitySavings Bank UBPxcellarator have sponsored the certification courses in online learning conducted by a learning partnership between Thames International (, EduRescue ( and Akadasia Singapore (

Joel Santos is the co-founder and President of Thames International School and author for the ReImagine Education Series. These are his views as an educator and proponent of the HEROES 2021 Project. For schools and teachers who want to participate in the program or get a copy of the research findings, please contact us at [email protected] or visit

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