Isaub National High School in Aborlan town, northern Palawan. | Photo from Isaub NHS on Facebook

For 15 years, Arlene Villarosa-Manalo used to do tons of paperwork aside from performing her main duty of teaching students. It became a routine not just for her but for every teacher until she assumed the position of principal at Isaub National High School in Aborlan town.

That was difficult, Manalo admitted, and the daily ritual was frequently hard on them.

“Kung nakikita lang nila ang pagod. Marami ang nagkasakit na teachers,” Manalo said.

But, she and the other instructors in Isaub eventually found a way to overcome their obstacle.

Christopher Hancock explains the features of SPLAT software used by some schools.

Reading Palawan News’ story
Manalo found SPLAT online when she was looking for new ways to teach and learn as part of her doctoral work. She used an article published by Palawan News in 2020 to connect with the U.S-based RightSize Education Technologies Inc.

She said the two systems of SPLAT, the Learning Management System (LMS) for student learning and the School Information System (SIS) for recording purposes, are both beneficial to them.

RightSize, which has been operating in the Philippines for 14 years, is offering the free use of its SPLAT, or Supporting Parents, Learners, Administrators, and Teachers, platform as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR).

It is a classroom management application created particularly for the Philippines to assist parents, students, administrators, and instructors. The project’s focus is on improving student achievement by increasing parental involvement in and understanding the classroom setting.

Mylene Gimeno-Villarosa, Senior high school focal person of Isaub National High School narrates the reduction of workload she experienced from using SPLAT.

Support to DepEd’s LCP
Christopher Hancock, president of RightSize, said the SPLAT SIS and courses are intended to help the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Philippine Learning Continuity Plan (LCP) in response to the problems posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

When it comes to the resumption of face-to-face classes, Hancock believes SPLAT is always a work in progress to assist instructors to minimize their workload.

“The purpose of it is really to try to remove the administrative workload of teachers so that they can pursue what they want to do when they graduate and not Excel worksheets,” he said.

SPLAT is available in Google Play, classified as SPLAT Teacher for educators, SPLAT Family for learners, and SPLAT Web for laptop use.

Hancock explained that the features of SPLAT are designed especially for offline use and could sync recorded data such as attendance. The adviser will be notified by the records from the subject teachers and will also send a message to the parent.

“We have heard that most of them (students) come in the door in the morning, and around second or third period, they sort of vanish. We are trying not to get them lost because the junior high is a tough age for everyone. That’s a time of life where kids are making decisions about what’s important or not to them,” he added.

The SPLAT also designed tools to help teachers spot which of their learners are starting to get lost. Hancock thinks that if this problem isn’t found before the first report card, it’s too late.

There are also schools using SPLAT in places like the Bicol region, the National Capital Region, South Cotabato, and Marawi after the siege. Isaub National High School is the first school in Palawan to use the SPLAT in 2021.

After the current school year, the SPLAT will be offered for P1 per learner per month, or a total of P12 in a year.

RightSize Education Technologies, Inc.’s Nilda De Vera and Isaub National High School’s senior high school focal person, Maylene Gimeno-Villarosa, share the school’s experience with SPLAT.

How SPLAT became helpful during the pandemic
It has been useful, especially during times of pandemic, as students were not required to be present at school to avoid the spread of the virus.

Using SPLAT, they no longer need to check all the papers from the modules answered by students, as the software does it instead. There is also an answer key that can be used to check how well students did on their tests.

“Ilang tons ng paper ang piniprint namin. Nagchi-check tapos gabi na uuwi. Samantala noong na-introduce si SPLAT, in one click lang,” Manalo said.

It also saved them time and gave them the opportunity to set up a cooperative to bring them together and work on improving the school. It went off without a hitch at the senior high school level because the provincial government gave tablets.

The school was supposed to conduct research in 2021 to measure the effectiveness of SPLAT on learners, but it was not approved at the division level. Manalo said that they will try again this year to pursue the research.

Benefits of SPLAT to teachers
Maylene Gimeno-Villarosa, the school’s senior high school focal person, said that there is already a LMS where teachers can download modules without interacting with children. After using SPLAT, their submission of grades to the DepEd has sped up, she added.

“Kapag na-enter na namin yong score, generated na agad. Hindi na babalikan yong quizzes tapos i-enter namin isa-isa, mabilis na. Naka-compliance din ang forms ng SPLAT sa LIS (Learner Information System) namin,” she said.

The real-time technical support for LMS also helps teachers familiarize themselves with the system. Teachers can also request to modify the features of the course programs.

The reduction of workload also helped in the management of the mental health of teachers, she added.

“Maganda siya kasi talagang paperless. Kung sa workload ay teaching-learning process ay nasa 50 percent yong mali-less namin sa stress. Sa recording pa lang, sa checking, kasi magagamit namin yong software na yong kahit offline, may mga task na pwede kami magawa,” Villarosa said.

Challenges
Manalo is aware that it is challenging to introduce the SPLAT system to the older generations of educators, but many of them are willing to learn and explore. She also sees the need for higher officials in the education department to embrace innovation so it can be implemented on the ground.

Nilda De Vera, product champion for the American software company, said that they have already started to introduce SPLAT in different schools in the country since 2017, but some just ignore it. SPLAT also has a memorandum of agreement for 2021 with regional director Dr. Nicolas Capulong, and a recommendation to explore SPLAT.

“Kasi meron na silang ginagamit but we are not our competition; we are not competing with them. We can even work with them—Sinasabi kasi na duplication ng task, pero kapag na-explore na nila, makikita nila na magaan siya. Reduction talaga ang pinaka-focus niya,” she said.

SPLAT had already coordinated with the Palawan Schools Division Superintendent, Dr. Roger Capa, who advised them to also look for other schools that may also explore SPLAT in the province.

“The software is easy, changing people is hard. That’s where leadership makes all the difference,” Hancock said.