Believe it or not, I'm now months away from finishing my Master's degree. Because I'm interested to harness my skills in communication and media, I took Master of Development Communication.
Actually, I was already enrolled at UP Diliman in 2007. I was taking up Master of Media Studies (Major in Broadcast Media). However, my journey at Diliman was cut short when the job offer from Brunei came in. With a professor's prodding, thanks to my mentor/close friend/nanay-nanayan/idol, Dr. Arminda "Ma'am Arms" Santiago, I discovered UP Open University and took Development Communication. What's more amazing, the three subjects that I took from Diliman were credited as my elective at UP Open University. So that's the reason why I was fast tracked.
I have my reasons why I enrolled at UP Open University and took a Master's Degree. First, as I've said, I want to upgrade my skills. Second, I want to teach someday, especially in the field of Communication and Media. Third, for personal reasons, I want to use my time overseas in a productive way. Of all these, going for a Master's degree is the best choice that I made in not only battling homesickness, but also hammering the importance of higher learning and skills development.
Now, are you interested to study at UP Open University? Are you an OFW or perhaps an Expat who wants to develop one's learning and skills? Well, let me guide you! Read on!
In brief, UP Open University is the fifth campus of the University of the Philippines System. It is established on 23 February 1995, which pioneered in online teaching and learning. It also continuously plays a leading role in the study and practice of open learning and distance education in the Philippines.
|During my recent visit at UP OU. It's located in Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines|
|The UP OU Headquarters|
|The UP OU oblation which is designed by Dr. Grace Alfonso, one of my professors.|
Divided in three faculties - Faculty of Education, Faculty of Information and Communication Studies, and Faculty of Management and Development Studies - UP Open University offers two undergraduate programs, nine post-baccalaureate certificate and diploma programs, 11 master's programs, two doctoral programs and 9 non-formal courses. It also has a networking of 10 learning centers and 19 testing centers in the country and abroad. To know more about the courses offered, you may visit the UP Open University WEBSITE.
Currently, I am taking Master of Development Communication. The program is a 2 1/2-year graduate program designed for communication professionals and graduates. What's interesting about my degree, Development Communication is like "mass communication" with a conscience. The production of key messages are crafted toward social development. On top of it, while the program foster creativity and critical thinking, communication research, strategies and practical applications are also incorporated.
So what is like to apply and enroll at UP Open University? In my case, I applied at UP Diliman, the nearest learning center, when I went back to the Philippines in April 2009. I submitted a photocopy of my transcript of record, photos, a fee, two recommendation letters, and an accomplished UP OU Form. Since I am based overseas, I am considered an Offshore student and I have to pay minimal fees in dollars.
I applied in April and I was admitted in the second semester. I started in October 2009. During my first semester in UP OU, I enrolled two major subjects. I decided to enroll two major subjects because I applied my three Media Studies Subjects from UP Diliman to be credited as my elective. Thankfully, after some months of application, I received an e-mail, and soon a snail mail, that my 3 subjects were credited.
For the succeeding enrollment, payment could be through cash or card. Prior to paying fees, you have to email OU for the assessment of fees that you have to pay. If you want to pay through card, you will be directed to a website wherein you will encode digits. However, through cash terms, which I always opt, I normally send money to the Philippines and ask my Father to pay in the nearest PNB branch. Once he settled the bill, the receipt shall be scanned and be emailed to me. Together with the Registration form (which you can get through email from OU and you had to fill in and scan) and the Mailing Form (which is essential for this is the form which will notify OU where to deliver your modules/books), you will email the receipt to the registrar's office. Once you received a confirmation, soon, you will receive an ENROLLMENT KEY which you will use to log in and access the course portal, which we call Moodle.
As I've said, At UP OU, students like us log on in a Learning Management System called Moodle. It is where we professors post course requirements, assignments, and other online activities. It is also where we post our insights on questions or discussions posted by our professors. Plus, it is where we upload some paper submission. However, some professors require submission are via email.
|The Moodle where you log in.|
|Your webpage where you interact with your classmates per subject.|
At UP OU, we call our teachers/professors as FIC or Faculty-in-Charge. While assignments or paper projects are called TMA or Tutor Marked Assignment.
In the Moodle, FICs post deadlines and discussions. You can actually answer the question or comment in the discussion, anytime of your convenience. However, you should be cautious with the deadline. Some FICs are very strict on deadline and discussions via online. You'll just be surprised, because of your procrastination, the page has been closed and you missed the submission of posts.
Interestingly, even if you're based in the Philippines, you can also enjoy the mobility of enrolling in Distance Education. In the case of UP Open University, there are testing or learning centers where you can get your books/modules. It is also where you need to go to during mid-terms or final examinations.
For Offshore students like me, I normally take final examinations via online, while some have take home exams. You may think that there can be some cheating that might take place. Answer is, there can't be. How? First, for some, there are administered proctors to facilitate the online exam. Most commonly, Philippine embassies in different countries facilitate the examination. Second, while some can take the exam in a place where they have internet access (just to make sure you can focus and the place is not noisy and messy), a webcam should be showing you (the person taking the exam) while the proctor is online through YM. The proctor watches you and ensures that your monitor is glued on the online exam and no other sites are opened for referencing. Actually, I've already tried online exams (twice). And Gaaaaawd, you can also feel the pressure in taking the exam because of time constraint and anxiety on online access interruption.
|Taking Online Examination|
In my case, apart from ensuring that I have Internet access at home where I can do my assignments and paper, I also try to manage my time. I have to juggle work, school and yes, social life. In order to submit on time, I keep track of the course guideline schedule, and align it on my social and work calendar.
On my free time, I try to squeeze in reading some modules and books. During weekends, I visit the nearest library in Brunei and do my research. While I read my classmates' posts in the Moodle to get insights, I also subscribe to online research to substantiate my papers.
Study habit is also important in distance education. While some students may feel lazy because the professors give leeway on submissions and deadlines, it is important to set a time table for oneself. Apart from knowing the deadlines to beat, it is important to establish a study time, such as two hours or more depending on your availability and energy. Bear in mind that FICs or Tutors are just around to facilitate your learning. The learning greatly depends on you, as a student.
To survive at UP Open University, apart from focus and time management, it also helps to communicate with your classmates. How's that? You can build relationships via online. In my case, I created a Facebook group where my co-DevComm majors and I can interact and share information or insights. We also get to update each other on our projects and assignments. While it may also be a venue to vent out or sometimes rant, the online group has established a great connection in supporting each others feelings toward coping and battling graduate school requirements.
Best of all, I also get to meet my UP Open University classmates and professors, face-to-face. It's just so coooool to meet them in person and not just in online pictures or hearsays in the online world. Hopefully, our meet-up will eventually materialize to become an official organization that aims to employ strategies and concepts learned at OU toward various social development projects.
|Me, Arlyn, Monaliza and Camille|
|me, Ivan, Arlyn and Joms|
|Joyce, Arlyn, Criselle, Me and Ivan|
|me (in blue shirt) with the some professors at UP OU!|
So, what are you waiting for? Check out UP Open University and see what opportunities await you with an empowered and upgraded learning!