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De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde

BigSky: Taking big leaps in evolving learning experiences


Understanding how students want to learn to create a future-proof response

At a glance

Client: De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde
Students: 12,000
Industry: Higher Education
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Platform/Features

  • D2L’s Brightspace Platform

Interviewee

  • Rogelio "Tugel" Dela Cruz Jr., Head of Educational Technology Office at De La Salle-College of St. Benilde

Highlights

  • 3,000 online makeup classes filed and conducted in lieu of face-to-face make-up classes
  • Learning analytics made access to real-time data possible, allowing instructional design and delivery to be tailored based on strategic goals
  • Inclusive education with easy accessibility for students with special needs
  • With BigSky’s competency and outcomes-based structure, differentiated learning is now possible which is otherwise difficult to implement in traditional classrooms
  • 97% of faculty are active users of the BigSky platform
De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde Logo

Institution

The De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) is a community of learners that fosters the holistic development of individuals for the service of society and the Church. DLS-CSB began as a night school for working professionals under De La Salle University in Manila. Today, it is a separate tertiary institution with three physical campuses, six schools, and thirty-five degree programmes. The College is home to approximately twelve thousand students in the visual, performing, and culinary arts as well as business, tourism, IT, diplomacy, and Deaf education programmes.

Challenge

Recognising the need for evolution

With a curriculum of non-traditional programmes and a diverse population of learners, the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde’s mission is to make innovative education accessible to students from all walks of life. The college holds to an educational philosophy that puts the individual learner, with all their unique requirements and unbounded potential at the center.

As early adopters of open-source learning management system (LMS) software since 2005, the college’s edtech team only had access to an open source application that they utilised to the best of its scope, which was rather limited. Eventually, they felt the need to grow and embrace edtech at a larger scale. With the advent of mobile technology, staying abreast of the evolving needs of its student population and keeping new generations of tech-savvy students engaged, required that the college devise out-of-the-box solutions. They wanted their educators to have access to innovative ways of teaching — like gamification and collaborative learning. In order to do so, the college needed a learning platform that could walk in step with its learner-centred approach, and that is where D2L’s Brightspace LMS stepped in.

Changing to a new LMS software is not as simple as slipping into a new pair of shoes; there’s more legwork to be done.

“This transition was technical and painstakingly big but we managed to at least assure the users that 80% of the content will be transferred with some major adjustments for others. After forming the team we looked into our small community of practice as the first group of persons to do the onboarding. Since it was strategic, we were given a budget that we were able to justify.,” said Rogelio “Tugel” B. Jr, Head of Educational Technology Office at De La Salle-College of St. Benilde.

man on phone

Solution

Alignment between Brightspace LMS’s core features and Benilde’s pedagogical principles

Rogelio said that they had been using an open-source LMS for almost ten years, when they first chanced upon D2L. They were no strangers to the core features or the limitations of a conventional LMS. D2L caught their eye as it went beyond that, with features that were very much in alignment with the college’s pedagogical principles.

“Features such as release conditions, competency mapping tools, student progress report, and learning analytics were the things that really caught my attention. Other additional things would be its integration capability with our homegrown SIS and Library systems. After due deliberation, we were able to really see D2L as a company and we were able to check whether we aligned as far as our institutional directions and principles are concerned.”

Future-proofed with education technology and its latest key offerings

The edtech team at the college was already included in one of the Strategic Initiatives spearheaded by the school President. To ease the transition to a new LMS software, they started off with articulating the Vision and Mission as an EdTech Initiative.

“From the Vision and Mission, we were able to come up with Key Goals, and from the Key Goals, we were able to come up with 5 yearly milestones, starting in 2015. We also began to formalise the organisational structure of EdTech as an Office,” shared Rogelio.

A smooth transition

The Edtech team along with the D2L team planned up a year-long timeline for the transition to take place. Aside from deliverables, they instituted a school-wide communication plan, to maintain transparency, and keep the faculty and student body up-to-date with the changes taking place.

“Doing things right is not enough. Faculty and students should be aware that something big is happening. That is also one of the reasons why we asked permission to have it branded. That was the start of BigSky Benilde powered by the Brightspace LMS.”

students in library

"It’s like carrying a hundred notebooks with you. Your process of cultivating ideas will be more flexible. You won’t be bound to your desk. It’s not a substitute, but it’s a good marriage between traditional media and more modern technology."

Student at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde

Results

A future-focused, pedagogically driven LMS: BigSky

Leveraging the power of D2L’s Brightspace platform, BigSky Benilde was officially launched in 2016 as the college’s official cloud-based Integrated Learning Platform (ILP) that is responsive, future-focused, and pedagogically driven to provide limitless possibilities for both students and faculty alike.

“It is integrated with many internal and external systems like our Registrar’s SIS, WorldCat Discoveries (library system), and Google apps, just to mention a few. In such a short amount of time, it has come to be a very powerful vehicle for driving the college’s Borderless Benildean Education philosophy forward,” said Rogelio.

Successful adoption of BigSky

From the physical to the virtual learning space, DLS-CSB reports BigSky Benilde’s usage has skyrocketed since its launch in 2016. Now, close to 97% of Benilde’s more than 800 faculty regularly logs in and uses the platform to deliver educational content. With some of this content being the sort that is tough to implement in a traditional classroom setting, this is learning that otherwise might not have happened.

"Technology doesn’t have to be cold and depersonalised. It’s not about you, it’s about them, and technology is a way to connect with the students in a more personal and emphatic way."

AJ Poliquit, School of Multidisciplinary Studies Faculty

Leveraging technology for efficient learning

Integrated with different systems like the Registrar’s Student Information System and the Learning Resource Center’s Digital Library, BigSky allows teachers to conduct online class activities, give awards or badges, as well as easily organise course materials, and receive and grade student submissions. In the same manner, students can easily access class materials, take tests and submit requirements, as well as track their own progress and achievements.

Moving towards the use of gamification for competency-based learning

The college first used awards and badges to gamify the training sessions they offer to the faculty members, and from there the faculties tried to use it in their own classes. They are using the outcomes-based learning approach as prescribed by the Commission on Higher Education of the Philippines and are currently working towards implementing it system-wide.

At the retreat for newly-hired associates, BigSky Benilde is used as a repository of presentations and reflections, so participants can easily revisit their experience. The BigSky platform also allows CLM to award badges in order to easily keep track of participation, which is one of the requirements for promotion.

"It would be great if there will come a time when CIE will no longer be needed because that would mean everyone knows what inclusion means and is able to be inclusive in the way they work, teach, and relate to people."

Nicky Perez, CIE Director

Accessibility for students with special needs

The Center for Inclusive Education or CIE was created at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde mainly to serve students with additional learning needs. And, D2L’s LMS aligns with and facilitates De La Salle’s vision for inclusive education.

At present, the Center is piloting the Passages training programme, which aims to help students improve their skills and be more independent. BigSky Benilde side-steps the challenges of coordinating conflicting schedules by making the training modules available online, for students to learn on-demand. The use of D2L’s Brightspace LMS also enables the Center to monitor the students’ usage and be more proactive in identifying possible triggers for participating students.

The full potential of BigSky Benilde to deliver all-inclusive education can be seen in the implementation of classroom content and assessments in the School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies (SDEAS). In SDEAS, teachers can easily use images and videos to facilitate the learning process in the classroom. For assessments, students are able to film themselves signing their essays in Filipino Sign Language and can easily submit these assignments on BigSky. Likewise, hearing and Deaf teachers can provide feedback with videos in FSL, hence enabling efficient and personalised learning both inside and outside the classroom.

“With D2L Brightspace LMS, learning has become more democratic, as students are provided with options regarding the time, place, and pace at which they want to learn,” Rogelio shared. “With its competency- and outcomes-based structure, differentiated learning — that is difficult to conduct in a face-to-face mode of teaching — is now possible.”

“Most importantly, we want to be more inclusive. By letting other people know that this can happen for us,” said Tricie Mendoza, a fashion design student with ADHD, who has embraced the learner-centric flexibility offered by BigSky Benilde.

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