Low-bandwidth teaching

Classes in public schools will finally start on August 24, amidst the still-growing Covid-19 cases in the country which breached 60,000 on July 16. Some low risk areas will be allowed to have face-to-face classes, while the vast majority will be confined to remote learning. The Department of Education (DepEd) said that the delivery of lessons could be done through the use of the Learning Resources portal and DepEd Commons, TV, radio and learning modules and packets both in print and digital format.

Educators and parents raised their concerns on the fact that a lot of students do not have access to technology, as almost 10 million learners from both public and private schools have enrolled remotely for the next school year according to DepEd. “The department is racing against time to train teachers for online and blended learning and finish their learning materials, which will be delivered to students with slow internet connection and lack of personal gadgets,” a CNN Philippines report said.

Moreover, the “National Association of Public Secondary Schools of the Philippines said that in Bacolod City National High School, teachers and learners rely on mobile data, which is less stable than broadband connections”, the report further stated.

While the government and the private sector are looking for a long-term solution to our country’s’ internet woes, educators can put on their creative thinking hats to find ways on how to effectively deliver the lessons to students with the low bandwidth resource that’s available.

A framework to help educators understand the role of low bandwidth in pedagogy is the one propounded by Daniel Stanford, the Director of Faculty Development and Technology Innovation at DePaul University’s Center for Teaching and Learning.

In his Bandwidth Immediacy Matrix, there are two key factors to consider in remote learning – on the horizontal axis is immediacy while on the vertex axis is bandwidth.Immediacy “refers to how quickly we expect our students to respond when interacting with us and with each other”, which can be low on one end and high on the other. Bandwidth can be likewise low or high.

This gives as four quadrants of lesson delivery. The ideal state of high bandwidth can have both low immediacy and high immediacy situations, delivering true blended learning environments. Pre-recorded videos and audios, and real-time video conferences make the lessons to students interactive and rich.

The low-bandwidth environment is the challenging one, characterized by spotty and intermittent wireless broadband or 3G connections. For high immediacy situations, teachers can use messaging platforms like FB messenger or Viber for real-time interactivity. Teachers can facilitate group and individual discussions and design collaborative assignments.

On the other hand, in low-immediacy and low-bandwidth environment, teachers can utilize email and SMS to deliver student assignments to many or one, and students correspondingly submit finished work. These low-bandwidth approaches can supplement DepEd’s Learning Resources portal and DepEd Commons, TV, radio and learning modules and packets both in print and digital format, to create a holistic instructional design.

The key in a successful low-bandwidth teaching is designing the learning experience using various approaches and tools, taking into account the different learner characteristics and contexts.


The author is Founder & CEO of Hungry Workhorse, a digital and culture transformation consulting firm. He is the Chairman of the ICT Committee of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX). He is Institute Fellow at the US-based Institute for Digital Transformation, and Country Representative of the Institute of Change and Transformation Professionals Asia (ICTPA). He teaches strategic management in the MBA Program of De La Salle University. The author may be emailed at rey.lugtu@hungryworkhorse.com

Source: https://mb.com.ph/2020/07/22/low-bandwidth-teaching/