Wednesday, July 27, 2011

ENJOYING DISTANCE EDUCATION AT UP OPEN UNIVERSITY

I've been working in Brunei for more than three years now. For the past years, I can say that one of my greatest achievements as an Overseas Filipino Worker is enrolling myself in a Master's Program. Apart from saving money, my move to upgrade my skills is an investment that's truly worth a lifetime.

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
Studying at UP Open University is a unique and challenging experience. Distance learning is very different from the traditional face-to-face classroom set-up. You can have classmates from as far as Ethiopia or as near as Singapore; indeed, the Internet has collapsed time and space. Apart from everything is communicated through online, time management and discipline is very important to succeed in this kind of learning.

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!

62 comments:

  1. glad i found ur blog. very informative. just wondering if after graduating from upou, were u able to apply ur skills to ur job? is upou recognized internationally? thanks in advance for ur reply

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  2. Hi Mildred! Thanks for taking time to read my blog and finding it informative.

    After graduating at UPOU, I was able to proceed with my PhD. I got a scholarship in Australia to do my PhD in Media and Comm. So now, I'm a PhD student.

    I am very proud with my UP OU Degree. Not only that I was able to improve my writing and critical thinking skills, it opened up new opportunities for me.

    And yes, it's one of the OU in the Philippines that's recognized internationally.

    So if you're thinking about getting a degree at UP OU, I suggest that you better check out the offered courses and apply. All the best in whatever undertakings you wish to take. =)

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  3. thanks earvs for the reply. i really enjoy your blog. i hope we can connect more as i am so into distance learning. and upou is perfect because it's a lot cheaper than here in the US. so are you in australia now or still in brunei? i am planning on taking up masters in distance educ at upou. i want to be an online instructor or a course administrator. does UP offer work or any type of experience after graduating from their course?

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    1. Hi Mildred. I'm now based in Melbourne, Australia. I'm doing my PhD in Media and Comm.

      That's a good choice: MA in Distance Education, especially if you want to be an online instructor or a course administrator.

      About the offered work, I guess, you'll have to check that out by yourself. I didn't apply at UP OU then.

      Delete
    2. Gday!

      Congrats, you are living the dream. Thanks for inspiring me. I'm currently applying for an undergraduate program, and I'm hoping that they'll accept me. "DevCom ang MassCom na may PUSO"-so true.

      Regards,
      John

      Delete
  4. Thanks Earvs. Hope to chat with you sometime. are you on fb? By the way, congratulations on qualifying for that Phd scholarship. that's one heck of an accomplishment. kudos to you!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mildred, thanks! Kailangan pagbutihin para maging matagumpay ang PhD. Balak ko rin kasi mapresent paper ko sa International Conferences. At siempre, maging libro ang aking research. All the best sa iyong UP OU decision making!

      Delete
  5. thanks for this.very informative... God bless!!

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  6. wow! i salute you Sir. I want to finish my college and it seems that enrolling at UPOU is a great option/opportunity, since i;m working already.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comment. I hope you'll check out UP OU to do higher degree research.

      Delete
  7. wow,very informative.. I am a Devcomm graduate and I am planning to do my Masters in UPOU too:) thanks for this post Sir...

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    1. Thank you for your comment. Alll the best in your MA at UPOU.

      Delete
  8. I have been thinking of taking Master's Degree since 2011 and I am happy to pass by your blog. Thank you for sharing. I hope to start my journey soon. :)

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    Replies
    1. Ninalyn, goodluck! Yakang yaka mo yan.

      Delete
  9. very informative. did they set any specific time for completion of the course,or a fixed date for mid term and final exam or even assignments?I'm also working overseas and I travel a lot, making it on time could b a pain in a back.

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    Replies
    1. Salamat, Mars. Yes, it's a University rule. Each course has a specific timeline.

      Yes. There are mid term and final exams, and assignments. It all depends with the FICS on the variety of course reuirements.

      If you're working overseas and you travel a lot, I highly recommend UP OU. All you need is discpline and time management to complete your degree.

      All the best! =)

      Delete
  10. Wow.. Nice blog.. I'm so thankful na nabasa ko ito.. I want to enroll in UP-OU.. I'm a nurse and I will be leaving for Saudi next month.. I want to know, if I can apply tru online.. I'm from Mindanao kasi, and medyo malayo and mahal ang pamasahe papuntang Manila.
    :-D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes you can apply online but you have to submit your documents at OU. Or you can contact OU to clarify and check on the requirements, plus the process. All the best! =)

      Delete
  11. Question po. I am a college drop-out who barely finished 3 semesters in college, plus i had a couple of INCs and a Fail---but those were mainly due to unsubmitted requirements.

    I wanted to enroll at UPOU, but i am torn between submitting just my highschool TOR (na magaganda talaga grades ko) so i can start with a clean slate, or submitting my university TOR (which by the way i possess with me). What's the best choice po kaya?

    Another question po, if i submit my highschool TOR, will i be required to take the ugAT? Natatakot po kasi ako baka ma-fail ko siya. When i took my UPCAT back in 2004, i got a 2.5, and i chose a quota course requiring strong math skills.

    Should i decide to submit my university TOR, will they accept me even though i do not have a "glowing" college record?

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    Replies
    1. Hi! I suggest better contact UP OU about the application. You can gather your documents and submit it for assessment. Doon natin malalaman kung ano ang action ng UP OU on your case. Good luck! =)

      Delete
  12. I love reading your blog Kuya Earvs and I actually posted your article about your graduation in OU's FB Group. I hope that's okay? Hehe! Your blog prepared me for the UP Virtual Classroom experience.

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    1. AJ! Super thanks sa pagbabasa ng blog ko. It's okay. Yakang yaka mo yang OU. Basta sipag at tiyaga!

      Delete
  13. Hi! Thanks for the MA information about UPOU. Can i ask if they have like entrance examination for those who want to take MA in Devcom? Btw, I'm from the Philippines naman.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tanong ko din yan...
      mukhang marami akong magiging kaklase dito ah. :P

      Im from Phils din, MA in DevCom din kukunin ko this sem. Complete na requirements ko for this coming sem, bayad na lang.

      Good luck sa atin ;)

      Delete
    2. Hi Anonymous and Ericka, sorry for the late reply. I was busy with my PhD.

      There's no entrance test. You just have to complete all the requirements needed for assessment such as transcript, diploma, etc.

      Delete
  14. Hi! I applied for the same course at UPOU. But I am worried if I'm gonna be studying the same principles during my undergrad since I took up Mass Communication.

    My idea kasi of Development Communication is more of using communication strategies to achieve a development goal or social marketing.

    How is its different ba from Mass Communication? I'm a media practitioner and my goal is to acquire a new knowledge, I'm planning to change my path and work in an international NGO

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    Replies
    1. Hi Maureen, I highly recommend MA DevComm especially if you want to change path and work in an International NGO. All the best!

      Delete
  15. Hi! Very informative yung blog. Thank you. Just wanted to ask if mahirap ba yung admission sa kanila? I'm a DevComm graduate din sa UPLB, and I'm planning to apply for next semester. May one year experience na ako by that time, but I'm in PR so medyo different track siya. Hopefully my BS Degree is enough para ma-admit ako. Do they have an entrance exam for MA in DevComm?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi! Just complete all the requirements and they will assess if you qualify.

      No entrance exam!

      Goodluck! =)

      Delete
  16. Hi! I'm completing my requirements na for the DevCom sa UP OU. Really glad I found your blog, thanks google haha. Salamat at nagkaroon ako ng mas malawak na idea sa tatahakin kong landas hehe. I'm a graduate din ng Communication Arts at media practitioner. Congrats Sir and thank you again!!! Mabuhay po kayo ;)

    "Development Communication is like "mass communication" with a conscience."- paplagiarize nga po nito minsan sir :P

    God bless and good luck sa PhD.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ericka! Salamat! All the best too!

      Yeah, PhD is stressful and challenging but I love it! =)

      Delete
  17. Hi! A very informative article about UP Open U.

    I am interested to enroll in Open U. Would you be able to expound more on how classes are being conducted throughout the year? I am curious to know, do you meet with the professors online, and does he conduct his classes by showing his powerpoint screen and he is presenting it to the virtual class? Or are you provided self-paced e-Learning courses viewable in Moodle? How are the classess done?

    Appreciate your response :)

    Darby
    Metro Manila, Philippines

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    Replies
    1. Hi Darby! Thanks for dropping by in my blog and reading my posts.

      Classes are conducted online. You log in to the OU Portal and you participate in class discussions via posting answers to questions and giving comments too to your classmates' posts.

      You will be provided with a module that you will follow. Exams are sometimes "take-home" or sometimes you need to do it via time-specific and in the portal.

      goodluck! =)

      Delete
  18. good morning sir, i love your article/ blog with UPOU just want to ask
    what type of exams being given for MATE- masters admission test / Doctoral Admission test Exams?

    god bless

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I applied for my Masters, there was no entrance test.

      Delete
  19. Hi! I found your blog while searching for UP OU. :) I'm thorn between UP OU (Dev Comm) and Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (Comm Management). How's the Dev Comm program? I work in PH naman kaya lang kasi I don't think na kaya ng schedule ko so I was thinking of UP OU but AIJ's curriculum is very good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Aj for dropping by and taking time to read my blog. That's a decision that you need to weigh. But I suggest go for what you believe in. I'm a graduate of UP OU and I can say that the program is great. I learned a lot and now I'm doing my PhD here in Australia. All the best! =0

      Delete
  20. Hi Anonymous. There's no entrance test for MA DevComm. I'm not quite sure with other programs. =)

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  21. Hi! Ano exactly pinagaaralan sa Dev Comm? Pwede ba syang gamitin sa field ng Marketing Comm? I;m a Marketing Comm Officer but I want to take Dev Comm. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous, yes, it's more on social marketing. If you are working of Corporate Social Responsibility projects, this is perfectly fit.

      Delete
  22. hi! I would like to ask if okay lang ba na letters of recommendation lang ng present employers ang ipasa since it has been a long time since I finished college that's why most of my profs have retired? Some went abroad and may natira man, di nako kilala. thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hello! It's so timely that I read your blog. I was inspired and would like also to try. However, I'm thinking how could they manage the time difference for offshore students? Like for example, I am here in Saudi Arabia and the time difference between here and in the Philippines is 5 hours, considering that the FIC is very strict to their schedule and deadlines? Just a thought. Thank you! :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! Okay naman ang schedule. May deadlines and the FICs are considerate.Pero deadlines are deadlines. So follow it. All the best!

      Delete
    2. gud day! just wanna ask po, magkano tuition fee?

      Delete
    3. Hi! Just check the UP OU Website. I'm not sure if they increased or it's still the same. All the best! =)

      Delete
    4. Hi earvs! i like your blog..very helpful..
      I just want to ask if you are familiar with their Diploma degrees? I am planning to enroll in Master in Language and literacy education, but i have to finish the prerequisite diploma in language and literacy education first before i could enroll..do you have any idea how long will it be for me to finish the diploma course and Masteral? Thank you..

      Delete
    5. Thank you, Kristine, for visiting my blog. Again, I have no idea. But you can directly inquire at UP OU. All the best! =)

      Delete
  24. I wonder if how long for will it take for me to finish the diploma in language and literacy and master in language and literacy education if i'll have full load each sem..do you have any idea?

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  25. Hi sir! Thanks for this very informative post. I have recently applied for a Masters Degree in Information Systems in UPOU and right now I am waiting for a positive result. Hope I can be a part of the system as well that would further enhance both my personal and professional skills.

    - Martz

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    Replies
    1. All the best, Martz! Kayang kaya mo yan! Cheers! =)

      Delete
  26. Hi, can you please drop me an email? :) Maryhope.palad@gmail.com

    would appreciate to communicate with you in private. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  27. This is a very good blog entry and it strengthened my desire to enroll Master of ASEAN Studies this coming semester. Does UPOU accept enrollees who are already concurrently enrolled in a different law school?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi. You have to check with UP OU. Thank you! =)

      Delete
  28. Wonderful post, thanks for putting this together! "This is obviously one great post. Thanks for the valuable information and insights you have so provided here. Keep it up!"
    ACC 291 Week 5

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  29. Hello po Mr. Earvs, so glad I was able to read your blog and so nice of you to reply to a lot of inquiries. I am currenly working in Riyadh and I plan to enroll in UPOU. I am a graduate of DevCom and I'd like to take Master of Development Communication. Actually I'm in the process na of finishing my requirements but since I work abroad, I'd like to ask if the TOR really needs dry seal and imprint of school? Thank you in advance :)

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  30. The TOR has a dry seal. Goodluck! Thank you for dropping by.

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  31. Hi.. I finished my Bachelors degree through distance education when I was working in Dubai as a Housemaid. At present, I am here in Singapore and planning to continue my studies in UPOU. I really am grateful to you Sir for the valuable information. And I couldn't agree more about taking the exam online because it was an exhilarating experience for me! :-) Kudos to you, Sir and stay awesome! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congratulations, Juliet! Thank you for your comment too! God bless!

      Delete

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