Visayas State University (VSU) through the newly-created University Integrated Media Center (UIMC) finally completed the country’s trailblazing three-week faculty and student onboarding program on August 28, 2020.

The main objective of the onboarding program was to equip, orient, and prepare faculty members and students to VSU’s newly-adopted flexible learning modalities, learning management systems, and class policies which will be executed in the upcoming first semester in time of the new normal.

To make the virtual orientation fun and engaging for students, the program involved interactive online games with load prizes. The event also included giving away smartphones, portable pocket Wi-Fi devices, and a laptop, all of which are expected to be helpful for students in their upcoming online classes.

Faculty Onboarding Training

To kick-start the three-week program, the VSU Faculty Onboarding Training was conducted from August 10-12. The program involved live sessions tackling VSU’s learning continuity plan, class management tools, and technological resources, and learning assessment and evaluation techniques under the new normal.

It also provided an opportunity for VSU faculty members to hold a live forum to air their concerns and questions to the VSU administration.

General Student Orientation

The virtual onboarding program continued with the General Student Orientation held on August 17-18. The live session introduced Viscans to VSU’s new academic policies, resources, services, and programs. The program also oriented the students to both the virtual management systems for the online learning modality and the effective navigation of the instructional materials for remote learning.

In this activity, key VSU officials also participated in a live question and answer session with the 13,000 plus students of the VSU system. Student concerns about the opening of classes were tackled including other policy directions that will be taken by the VSU administration in time for the new normal educational setup.

Component College Orientations

The onboarding program proceeded to go from macro to micro with the Component College Orientations which was aired on August 19-20. This virtual orientation specifically tackled the academic policies, faculty member profiles, degree programs, and other relevant information about the component colleges of VSU located in the towns of Alangalang, Isabel, Tolosa, and Villaba.

VSU Alangalang, Isabel, and Villaba held their live broadcast at the VSU Main Campus in Baybay City, Leyte while VSU Tolosa opted for a recorded whole-day event aired on their respective official Facebook pages.

Main Campus College Orientation

The Main Campus College Orientation was the last part of the three-week marathon onboarding training held from August 24-28. Each college in the Main Campus was given the opportunity to feature and present all of the departments and units under them.

The college deans and the department heads also showcased each of their college history, specific degree program curricula, faculty and staff profile, laboratories and equipment, potential job opportunities for their graduates, their roster of topnotchers, and other notable achievements.

This activity was capped by the Graduate School Orientation to welcome 496 graduate students, the biggest number of graduate program enrollees in the history of the VSU system. 

VSU’s Online Onboarding Programs Receive Massive Praise from Students, CHED Chair

The innovative and inclusive approach that VSU implemented to prepare and equip its faculty members and students for the upcoming semester under the new normal has gained immense online support and praise from Viscans, as well as recognition from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) through Chairperson Dr. J. Prospero E. De Vera III.

In his keynote speech during the opening of the Main Campus College Orientation, CHED Chair De Vera lauded VSU and was impressed by the “level of preparedness shown by the university as it continues to fulfill its mission even as the country continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.”

According to Jawrence Benz O. Casupang, an Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering junior, he was highly satisfied with how the student orientation turned out.

“The orientation was greatly filled with activities and interactions. Though there were some technical difficulties like the audio was sometimes not clear and there were moments of silence, it was very understandable because the event was live. Overall, it was fun, interactive, and wholesome”, he said.

Kevin R. Sumayang, a first-year Master of Education major in Physical Education student, said that he was pleased that VSU was able to come up with an online onboarding program.

“The online onboarding programs were indeed a perfect avenue for the university to continue providing its support and services to students despite the pandemic. The programs were unexpectedly fun and engaging, and it was good that the speakers were also able to present and discuss their topics comprehensively”, he quipped.

Meanwhile, Elgin Ray Isaac A. Espanto, a third-year Computer Science student, shared that he was impressed at how the university was able to effectively utilize social media platforms to spread information despite the pandemic. But he also provided his sentiments regarding the students who weren’t able to access the live orientations.

“The live student onboarding programs were a wise decision since most of us students use Facebook and it is relatively easy to register to. However, we can’t deny that there are still users who are left behind. There are students who don’t have enough resources to have internet and smartphone, and there are also those who are in locations with poor cellular signal”, Espanto shared.

Moreover, the VSU College of Agriculture and Food Science Dean, Dr. Victor B. Asio, expressed his thoughts on the importance of the online onboarding program.

“In my view, the student onboarding program is really an excellent way to reach out to our students to let them know that we are very glad that they are now part of our VSU family and to inform them about who we are and what are [including] our programs here at VSU. With or without COVID, this should be a part of our programs in the university”, Dr. Asio said.

Dr. Bayron Barredo, the Dean of the College of Education, stated that he was initially hesitant with the idea of a virtual orientation. But he was surprised when he saw how the orientation cultivated interactive engagement and drew massive participation from the students. 

“At first, I was apprehensive of what will happen during the student onboarding activities knowing that students are used to face-to-face orientation and they have a short attention span in a virtual setting. When the program [ran] its course, I noticed how students got involved and participated in the games and the Q & A portion. So I believe that the onboarding program is very significant because it [allowed] us to connect and engage our students to answer their queries and concerns”, said Dr. Barredo.

Lastly, the Dean of the College of Management and Economics Dr. Moises Neil Seriño, further reiterated the significance and relevance of VSU’s first online onboarding program.

“The student onboarding program is an integral part of starting this semester, especially that we are in a pandemic situation. It was an exciting and pragmatic way of orienting our students about VSU and its curricular programs. The onboarding program provided essential information to our students on how the semester will proceed, [present to them] the needed requirements, and it clarified some issues related to academic policies”, Dr. Serino explained.

The marathon online onboarding program for faculty members and students ran from August 10-28 and was broadcasted live at the VSU Multimedia Development Center (MMDC).