What’s a classroom to a hub?

Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato de la Peña named the Knowledge Hub (KHub) a “one-stop shop” for the academic needs of the teachers and students. The said platform is one of the most excellent in its field. It organizes courses and submissions, and is equipped with a calendar and a progress bar. However, it has been voyaging through a multitude of negative feedback lately. Some assert that its counterpart, the Google classroom, is a better tool for blended learning. Is it?

Google Classroom is a web service developed by Google LLC for academic-related information dissemination and assignment distribution. It integrates Docs, Sheets, Slides, Gmail, Forms, and Calendar into a unified platform. This versatile tool was utilized by Philippine Science High School – Western Visayas Campus (PSHS – WVC) during its 2020 Bridging Program. Much of its attributes are found in the KHub, yet it did not earn the similar negative responses.

One of the advantageous features of Google Classroom is its mutualistic relationship with Gmail and Hangouts. The Knowledge Hub has a built-in chatting tool, but this is barely used, most likely because it does not support image or file transfer. The notifications of the KHub could’ve also been synonymous with Gmail’s classroom alerts, but due to server capacity limitations, the KHub notifications feature has been largely ignored.

This issue, however, is only a challenge the developers have to undertake for the platform to evolve. KHub has undergone maintenance a couple of times to widen its performance capabilities.

On the same note, server capacity is a problematic issue in KHub. Large files have to be trimmed or zipped or cut into pieces and uploaded several times just for it to be accepted in the submission bins. Some educators still resort to the use of Google Drive for submissions. Nonetheless, KHub submission is organized in the sense that, for a certain submission, it will only accept specific file types (e.g. images, html, pdf, and so on). This will ensure that students submit their works in a proper format.

As for the KHub’s side, it is justifiable to say that it has its own forte. For starters, it gives staff and faculty access to the Learning Management System (LMS) Learning Resources taken from different branches of the DOST. These resources can be imbued to the lessons and modules given to students. The badges and competencies filter could’ve also been unique and favorable properties, though they have not been implemented on all courses.

In addition, there are convenient features in KHub used seldomly, but are still helpful. The Attendance section allows students to self-record their attendance status in a given time frame. Teachers no longer have to worry about attendance forms. The private files attribute is also synonymous with Google Drive, able to store documents, images, and other multimedia to be used for later projects. The PDF annotator also makes feedbacking an easier chore, as educators can highlight wrong answers on the file instead of explaining it in a separate email.

As for the quiz styles, one can note that KHub offers diverse settings. It supports the multiple choice and identification type. While it does not have linear scale or grid choice formats, it still has the cloze test type, where a portion of language with certain items, words, or signs are removed and the student is asked to replace the missing language item. It also gives a chance to temporarily skip a section of the test, unlike Google Forms where each required section must be answered to go to the next one. A student may encounter a difficult question and would like to skip it temporarily, but that’s not an option for the latter.

Another advantage in KHub quizzes is the built-in timer. In Forms, you’d have to use the add-in Quilgo (formerly Timify) for the student to know whether time is running out. For those who do not use Quilgo, particularly PSHS-WVC, the teacher would have to constantly remind every student that there is only this remaining time left. KHub’s timer overhauls the arduous problem.

In conclusion, the KHub platform may be undergoing several challenges, but it is still a highly recommended tool. As a “locally developed” platform, it is satisfying to teachers and scholars alike. It may be incomparable in terms of server size to a multinational tool such as Google classroom, but it is still a testament of Filipino developers’ skill in uplifting education during the lockdown. With its quiz and submission advantages, one can say it’s multifaceted and worthwhile. After all, what’s a classroom to a hub?

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