• Academic Technology

The Move to Blended Learning Prepared the University of the Philippines for the Pandemic

Little did the leaders at the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Medicine know that the technology investments they made in 2019 to incorporate blended learning into their pedagogy would set them up for success in 2020 at the onset of the pandemic.

In the summer of 2018, the school’s leadership embarked on an ambitious digital transformation of the College of Medicine. The goal was to modernize their pedagogy and better serve the needs of their digital-native students. They wanted to provide more blended learning opportunities, create more engaging in-class experiences, enable students to easily view missed lectures, and give students more ways to solidify core concepts.

They were interested in using flipped classrooms, where students learn new concepts via video or pre-recorded lectures ahead of class, so that face-to-face time with professors can focus on discussions and problem solving. They believed these types of technology investments would improve learning outcomes and revolutionize the way medical students and their professors engage with one another during the preclinical years.  

At that time, only eight percent of the College of Medicine’s courses offered blended learning and the goal was to increase that number to 30%. To reach that goal, they formed a committee to review various video management systems and chose Panopto.

We visited with UP College of Medicine Dean Charlotte Chiong and Clinical Associate Professor Philip Fullante of UP College of Medicine’s Department of Otorhinolaryngology to learn more about why they partnered with Panopto and how they have used the technology during the pandemic. 

In the interview below, Chiong and Fullante, explain why they embarked on a digital transformation in 2018 and how that timing turned out to be fortuitous. 

Q: Why did you decide to modernize the College of Medicine’s pedagogy through a digital transformation?

Dean Charlotte Chiong:  We knew that we were doing well in research and in the clinical phase of the education that we offered. But in terms of our pedagogy, there was a clear need to modernize in the preclinical years. We thought that by increasing the amount of blended learning and using techniques such as flipped classrooms, we could engage more with our students.

This generation of learners is really different from my generation of medical students. They are digital natives and are used to multitasking. They have different types of learning strategies and are used to using social media and computers to get information. For us in medicine, it’s good for our doctors to be trained in how to engage using technology. We wanted to harness technology for our pedagogy as well.

With that goal to modernize our pedagogy, we set up a committee, with members from the Medical Education Unit and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs to look at different platforms. And there were of course lots of them to choose from!

Q: Why did you choose Panopto to help you reach your goals?

Dean Charlotte Chiong:  We were looking for a really good video capture platform that is easy to use. We wanted something that will be very friendly to our faculty and that will be able to clearly and speedily answer our needs. Panopto stood out when we did our review, and that’s the reason why we elected to try out for one year. That was in September 2019.

Dr. Philip Fullante:  We liked that Panopto is an all-in-one system. You can record. You can edit the video. You can add interactive tools. You can add quizzes in the videos. You can create podcasts from your videos. You can even use the Panopto website as a standalone learning management system.

You don’t need to upload it into another learning management system. So it’s very robust and versatile!

Q: How did the professors adapt to using Panopto? Was it difficult to get them onboard in the beginning?

Dean Charlotte Chiong:  The average age of the professors in the College of Medicine is actually quite high. Very few of us really are computer wizards and we are used to going to the classroom and then meeting the students and giving them a lecture. So, in the beginning we did have to convince professors that they needed to embark on this new learning platform. We got Panopto in September and it took a few months before people started using it. But when the pandemic struck us in March, we quickly saw 100% adoption with all our courses delivered online.

Dr. Philip Fullante:  When the pandemic came, our professors realized that they had the tool to cope with the pandemic in terms of providing the needed educational resources for our students. All they needed to do was to open their computers and open the software and the browser. Many of the senior faculty had thought that using Panopto would be very difficult. They didn’t realize it’s just like opening Facebook or using TikTok. That’s what I always tell my fellow faculty. If you know how to use TikTok, then you can create a video on Panopto.

One department in particular really saw the potential of Panopto during the pandemic. They were supposed to conduct a postgraduate course for graduating orthopedic surgeons from all over the country and even internationally. So it’s 2020, and it’s their seventh year of conducting that postgraduate course. They thought of canceling the course this year. But one of their faculty members volunteered to use Panopto to create videos. So they created a two-week asynchronous course instead of a face-to-face live course. When the Dean heard about this, she realized that our investment in Panopto is really paying off.

Q: Are students happy with how the Medical College is using videos for asynchronous learning?

Dr. Philip Fullante:  During the pandemic, some professors in the Medical College have been using Zoom for synchronous lessons, while others have used Panopto to record videos and offer them asynchronously. The feedback we have received from the students is that they like the shorter pre-recorded videos — they are easier to digest. Instead of sitting for hours of continuous lectures, they can watch the pre-recorded sessions when they want. The students are not forced to stay in front of their computer or continuously for four hours or eight hours straight. They can complete the courses at their own pace. 

And we can monitor and see what students have actually viewed. We can see how long a student spent watching videos and whether or not they completed the activities. We can provide quizzes and pre-tests or post-tests after each video.

Q: Are there some more introverted students that feel more comfortable participating in remote learning than they did in an in-person setting?

Dr. Philip Fullante:  Some of the features built into Panopto, like the discussion board, make it easy for students to participate. Students can comment or ask for clarification. It is like writing in a chat box or making comments on Instagram. I think that most of the students in the younger generation are more comfortable with this way of communicating their thoughts.

Q: What will happen when the vaccine comes and face-to-face instruction becomes available again?

Dean Charlotte Chiong:  I don’t think we’ll ever get back to what it used to be because there will always be a need to ensure the safety of our students and our faculty during uncertain times. We are determined to ensure the continuity of the flipped classroom and embedded learning strategies. The digital transformation of our school — the College of Medicine — will be a trajectory towards being almost 100% blended.

Dr. Philip Fullante:  Since all the lectures are already recorded and saved in Panopto, we can use them every year for new students. If students view their lectures before they go to class, we can provide more interactive engagement with the students while they are in class. Less face-to-face lectures and more facilitated classroom interactions will encourage students to talk and engage more during class time. This will create a participative classroom encounter instead of the traditional lecture where the professor teaches and students listen and take notes.

Watch and Learn: Digital Transformation in Medical Education >>



The College of Medicine’s digital transformation made it easy for them to shift to 100% remote learning during the pandemic. What started as a one-year trial of Panopto evolved into a three-year contract. The digital transformation to meet the needs of today’s students became the foundation for a resilient university that can remain open and continue its important work of training the next generation of doctors.

Here’s a light-hearted behind-the-scenes look at how the department of Orthopedics at the College of Medicine uses Panopto to create course content. Enjoy! 



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