Dr. Grace Alfonso Speaks Hope to the Filipino Community in Taiwan through the Presentation of UPOU Philippine Learning Commons

Dr. Grace Javier Alfonso, Professor and Former Chancellor of University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) and Executive Director of TVUP, brought access to continuing higher education even closer to the Filipino community in Taiwan as she presented and discussed the UPOU Philippine Learning Commons (PLC) to the Filipino workers at the Advanced Semi-conductor Engineering (ASE) Inc., in Kaohsiung. Taiwan on 22 March 2019. The presentation is part of the 19th Anniversary Celebration of National University of Kaohsiung.

In her presentation, Dr. Alfonso expressed her enthusiasm over the fruition of their years’ worth of planning and visioning to strengthen the culture of sharing through open educational resources (OERs) from one country to another.  She discussed the importance of expanding people networking and connectivity in achieving this goal.

“The phenomenal development of industries in areas of robotics, AI, nanotech, biotech, quantum computing, 3D printing, Internet of things, autonomous vehicles, energy storage  and the list goes on…sets us in a state of unimaginable accelerated exponential growth. If we do not face this as educational institutions we miss opportunities in our partnerships and academic collaboration to help in developing our nation’s potentials in our future scenario.”

Dr. Grace emphasized that “We do not have much choice but to make sure we be part of the lifelong Learning Culture” thus she encouraged the Filipino community in Taiwan to enroll in Professional Continuing Education Programs or other academic programs.

“You are very fortunate that you are in Taiwan where Taiwanese people have so much respect and passion for continuing higher education.”

Dr. Alfonso further present the importance of attaining higher continuing education especially because there are 700-800 thousand high school student graduates  every year who are not  given the opportunity to take higher education in the Philippines. On top of this, Philippines is composed of 7400 islands thus, locally, we cannot afford to physically replicate our institutions or fly our professors in every island.  Meanwhile, millions of adult Filipinos in our country and around 10 million Filipinos abroad need professional continuing education thus Dr. Alfonso therefore asserted that “we should make technology work for our higher education system” by making MOOCs, OER , and Internet Television (i-TV) widely accessible all over the world.

“It [MOOCs] poses benefits to all teachers and learners especially in developing countries like the Philippines. Digital OERS are an important resource for education for Filipinos all over the world, especially as they become increasingly available and gaining in maturity.”

According to Dr. Alfonso, UPOU plays an active role in using and producing OER in our country and building the academic communities to be producers and users as well. OERs usher in the potential for natural partnerships, collaboration within the UP System and even researchers, scientists, and artists of various Philippine HEIs. Furthermore, our Filipino scholars are working together with Southeast Asian Countries and ASEAN and other foreign scholars in the different disciplines creating a dynamic academic synergy. She cited the production of more than 40 documentaries, which are all accessible in TVUP, with UPOU’s ASEAN partners on Art and Culture in ASEAN as an example of productive partnerships brought forth by OERs.

Screenshots of the documentaries produced by TVUP

Dr. Alfonso ended her presentation with a quote from NUK’s President Leon Shyue-Liang Wang that wholly captured the essence of collaboration in achieving a common goal “If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.” The Philippine Learning Commons, officially inaugurated at the Main Campus of NUK in Kaohsiung, Taiwan last 28 November 2018, is a venue and facility established to help Filipinos and other borderless workers based in Kaohsiung to engage in continuing education and acquire new knowledge and skills. The PLC is aimed at furthering their career development, developing their business and entrepreneurial acumen and providing them an avenue for lifelong learning. It is the initiative supported by the NUK and UPOU, Philippine Commission on Higher Education, Manila Economic and Cultural Office, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, Taiwan Ministry of Labor, Taiwan Ministry of Education, and Edu-Connect Southeast Asia Association Kaohsiung.