MANILA, SEPTEMBER 17, 2008 (STAR) By Alma Buelva - Smart Communications has kicked off a four-year online user content generation project that will allow teachers and students to showcase on the Internet fascinating information about their respective communities and provinces.

The program dubbed Doon Po Sa Amin (DPSA) is part of the flagship Smart Schools Program of the company, which helps promote the use of information communication technologies in education.

Under the DPSA, teachers and students are given access to computers and Internet technologies so they could tackle curriculum-based subjects better. To make learning this way even more fun, Smart introduced the DPSA Learning Challenge — an online content generation contest that is open to all its member schools nationwide.

Launched during the recent Third National ICT in Basic Education Congress in Cebu, the DPSA Learning Challenge has several objectives, among which is to create a dynamic online platform for the creation and distribution of user-generated local content and to engage the academe to a continuous development of online content for the development and promotion of local communities. Smart believes that a rich local content defines the community, its people, culture and society, economy and geography — thus the name Doon Po Sa Amin which literally means “in our place.”

Visual narrative The contest will make use of basic community mapping techniques — a visual narrative that shows a collection of data about a community that combines maps, images, descriptions and other relevant and interesting information about a particular community.

The contest will also focus on seven topics: mathematics, science and environment, health and wellness, technology and livelihood, language and literature, arts and culture, and social science. A student group headed by a teacher coach will then produce materials on one of these categories, publish them on their school websites and try to raise awareness based on their research and related findings.

“What we’re trying to accomplish here is something like a living library of local online content that schools can enrich as they go on with the program and with member schools reinforcing each other,” said Ramon Isberto, Smart’s Public Affairs Group head. “This is learning by doing.” Registration for the DPSA Learning Challenge has concluded with some 350 student groups joining and now working on their Web projects due this December. Websites that have been uploaded have so far already generated 63,000 unique visitors from 171 countries from January to June this year, reported Isberto.

“We want our teachers and students to be ‘full participants’ in this digital age by being creators of online content,” said Isberto, who added that Filipinos currently rank No. 1 in many types of online social networking.

Based on research data from the International Social Media Research Wave, Filipinos dominate the online social networks with 83.1 percent presence overall. Filipinos here and abroad (56.4 percent) are also found to be posting and sharing the most number of digital photos online.

The same is true about Filipinos when it comes to uploading videos in services like YouTube, garnering a 50.5 percent share that is bigger than any other nationality. Pinoys are also found to be watching videos and reading blogs of other people a lot more than others.

“This means we are already active Web participants. This is what we are encouraging our Smart Schools to be, only in a more rigorous and structured way,” said Isberto.

Reaching out To date, Smart’s DPSA program has reached out to 240 public high schools and trained over 8,000 public school teachers nationwide. Ninety-nine percent of the schools are connected to the Internet wirelessly, a service they enjoy for free during the first year of the program. After that the schools can avail themselves of a subsidized subscription rate from Smart, officials say.

The Doon Po Sa Amin contest will award P30,000 and Internet (access) package to the school team grand champion. Another P30,000 and computer package each will go to student groups that will win in each category. Awarding will take place in February 2009.

Meanwhile, Smart is promoting a Smart Schools Online Associate and Contributor concept for schools and educators outside of its SSP network. It will give online associates and contributors free website hosting, access to online learning materials and opportunities to join online contests and promotions, too.

“We are now virtually extending the Smart Schools Program outside the Smart Schools network as we believe in supporting all online communities of educators and learners and because it reinforces our ‘Internet for All’ advocacy,” said Darwin Flores, senior manager of Smart’s Public Affairs Group.

The Smart Schools Program and its sub-components like Doon Po Sa Amin is being implemented through the Philippine Business for Social Progress, with the support of the Department of Education and Microsoft’s Partners in Learning Program.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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