Staff interview #19 Karen Diane S. Natera

Developing Lecture Contents for Teachers

I develop contents of prototypes for teachers in Quipper Philippines.

 

Quipper Philippines has a partnership with the Department of Education, and provides a service called QuipperSchool which is used in the public schools for free of charge.  QuipperSchool is a platform for teachers where we provide homework and necessary contents for students’ exercises during classes. 

 

In FY 2018, I was involved with creating prototypes for QuipperSchool Premium, a paid service evolved from QuipperSchool.  The contents include quizzes and study guides in PDF, and teachers can download them in order to use and/or prepare for a class.  It is also possible for students to download the contents and study them with teachers.

 

In the Philippines, not all teachers necessarily have expertise in all subjects they teach.  Therefore, it sometimes takes a long time to prepare for a class.  I am hoping that the contents for teachers we create will make their work more efficient, and allow them to spend more time with students.

Challenges for making usable contents in all environments

My biggest challenge in Quipper has been to develop contents that match the needs of teachers with different backgrounds, educational beliefs who work under different learning environments..

 

Each school has a different environment.  In the Philippines, some schools have no or very limited internet access.  On the other hand, there are schools that have all sorts of technologies.  Our contents needed to be usable in all schools with a limited environment and those with extensive technologies.

 

To find out more about our users, we implemented design thinking.  Design thinking is a method to understand the situation of the user and try to solutions that match their needs.  First of all, we empathize with the users and understand their environments, backgrounds, and teachers’ needs as well as the problems they have.  It is really important to think from the teachers’ points of view by putting yourself in their places.  To me, design thinking was useful to understand how teachers think and their context.

Finished contents are the fruits of all team members’ efforts.

I worked with 5 subject masters for this project in 2018.

 

The members are from various backgrounds, so our way of thinking is really varied, and a lot of different ideas amongst us rise the possibility of innovation more.  We are very close because we respect each other.

 

As a leader of the Content Development team, I am also responsible for training team members.  The fact there are people around me who voluntarily want to learn makes me very happy.  I have been trying different methods for training members.  The orthodox face-to-face training has its value, particularly in terms of the interactive communication.  However, I find fixing the schedule of all attendees can be a little tricky, and also having to provide exactly the same session for new joiners was a major challenge.  Therefore, I started to train using lecture videos, and found out that this lacked interactive communications.  I also needed to spend a significant amount of time for editing the videos.  This is how I have reached to the online training sessions with an interactive communication such as asking questions and discussing issues online.  For example, having exercises by asking them to directly apply new knowledge learned in new contexts and fill out a blank form on a slide.  By doing this, we maintain lively and interactive communications even though we cannot see each other’s faces.  I find this method really valuable because team members from all sorts of different backgrounds  can share everyone’s knowledge as well as exchanging opinions.

 

What I consider particularly important for our training is critical thinking.  Instead of just following what they have been told, I would like participants to keep asking themselves if what they are doing is right, if they should proceed with the plan provided, or if they can explain the reason why they are doing that, etc.

 

I find fulfillment in training because I believe these experiences are really useful for the attendees when developing better contents.  I don’t just teach what they should do during our training sessions.  I also try to make them be confident with themselves, as I encourage them to speak up about their opinions and their own experiences and I find this is fulfilling, too.

 

In our team, we try to deepen our knowledge together and we learn by filling one’s weak points with others’ strengths.  The contents we created brought me an MVP award as a result, but I believe this is a fruit of all members’ efforts.

I would like to carry out things I have been appointed

I was told one of the reasons why I had been chosen as an MVP was because I was a role model of the members for my passion for challenging things and eagerness to learn.  In order to keep myself motivated, things that come up from inside of you is really important.  If you keep doing the same thing in the same way, your daily life will suddenly become uninteresting.  We need to continually be curious and to keep pursuing and discovering new knowledge.  A secret to keep my motivation is to feel that my new knowledge has been useful for myself, for the company and/or team.  

 

When I feel stressed out, I try to think positively.  For example, while everyone makes a mistake, I think it is important to change our mindsets when we make a mistake.  I mean I would focus more on what I can learn from this mistake, and how I can improve myself rather than just thinking over the mistake itself.

I would like students to enjoy the process of learning.

My goal is to change how people in the Philippines think about education.

 

Many people primarily think that the main purpose of education is to get a good job.  I disagree with that.  When I was little, my parents encouraged me to read books, and they rewarded me with books.  I think they did that to instill that mindset that reading and studying are tasks to be enjoyed more than getting a good grade or a good job in the future. It was learning for its own sake.

 

I think education, just like reading books, is something you need for yourself.  All students have potential, and education is necessary to discover one’s potential.  I would like students to enjoy the process of learning.  There are several conditions for the students to do so; parents and their home environments are examples, but I think the largest one of all is the teacher - his or her ability to actively engage students in learning activities.

 

I would like teachers to be able to decide what they want to do as well as discover what they can do by using Quipper’s services.  I will be really happy if the contents we have developed motivates and improves the way teachers teach.

 

I have been thinking I would like to make contents that will interest students even more.  What I am aiming for is to make contents that students read because they want to, instead of reading because they have to.

Quipper has given me many opportunities and has let me grow up.

Before Quipper, I used to work at an NGO which provided multimedia to public schools for free of charge, and also at a Malaysian e-learning company.  Currently, I also teach part-time at a university.  I have always been involved with education.  I even taught at an elementary school once.

 

The biggest difference between Quipper and my previous workplaces is that I can work on various tasks at Quipper.  I have been playing different roles ever since I joined Quipper in December, 2014.  For example, I was involved in  content creation, quality control, and I was also involved with educating teachers.  I will be challenging at something different in the next school year.

 

Just like what I do for my job is changing, I believe the internet environments in schools will change in the Philippines.  When developing the contents, we currently have to bear in mind that those contents must be used off-line, as well.  However, with the spread of internet, I think what people expect from our contents will change.

 

I know some people find the change of environments stressful, but to me, it is quite opposite.  I rather enjoy the change and even feel happiness.

 

If you look at yourself after observing your surroundings from one role’s point of view, you can find something new.  I think with changing roles and changing contexts, one can deepen one’s understanding of users, others and oneself.  There are many things to learn.  I think that will add the essence to my growth as a professional.

 

I am really grateful that Quipper has given me a lot of opportunities so that I can grow.  I would like to keep challenging at new things.




2019/4/23

* The business (including business name and business description), people and titles introduced in the article are those at the time of the interview. It may be different at this time.

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