distance learning

How much would online distance learning devices cost?

Gelo Gonzales
How much would online distance learning devices cost?
Just how much does one have to spend for a device capable of accessing the DepEd Commons platform?

Philippine schools are set to reopen on August 24. 

Three main methods are being eyed by the education department for the delivery of lessons: printed learning modules, TV and radio broadcasts, and through videos accessible online through the Department of Education (DepEd) Commons platform. 

Printed modules, as well as TV and radio broadcasts are more financially feasible options. The online option requires more expensive devices plus the cost of internet access. With the loss of income because of the pandemic, it’s harder than ever to afford these online tools, creating an even wider digital divide. 

That is why the alternatives are absolutely necessary, and steps must be ensured that whatever the method of learning is, everyone is getting – to the extent that it can be controlled – the same quality of education. (WATCH: EXPLAINER: Handa na bang magbukas ng klase sa Agosto 24 ang Pilipinas?)

But just how much do we have to spend for a device capable of accessing the DepEd Commons platform

There are several options: a desktop computer, a smartphone, or a tablet. 

The desktop computer will be the most expensive. A brand new system that meets the minimum requirements of DepEd may cost at least around P18,000.

Here’s a breakdown based on prices we saw in one online store: 

CPU: AMD A6 7480 – P1,700
Motherboard: Asus A68HME33 – P2,100
RAM: 4GB – P1,150
Hard drive: 500GB – P1,800
Windows 10 operating system – P6,150
Power supply unit – P300
Auto voltage regulator – P250
Monitor: 15.6 inches, 1366 x 768 resolution – P2,500
Mouse and keyboard – P250
USB WiFi adapter – P580
Casing – P1,250

Total: P18,030

DepEd’s specifications say that 8GB RAM, and a screen with full HD (1,920 x 1,080) resolution are the minimum, but 4GB of RAM and lower resolution screen will do just fine in accessing the online video lessons. A cheaper 250GB hard drive instead of the minimum 500GB may also suffice. Laptops with similar specs are generally more expensive than their desktop counterparts. 

A cheaper option, though, may be a smartphone or a tablet. 

Filipino brand Cherry Mobile’s Flare S8 (P3,999) meets DepEd requirements. The cheaper S8 Lite (P3,299) has the same processor and RAM, but has less storage (16GB compared to the standard S8’s 32GB) and a smaller screen. Given that videos take up a lot of space though, the 32GB S8 may be the almost-necessary choice here. 

The key thing with these phones is that they have 4G connectivity. Cherry Mobile has cheaper models like the Desire R7 Lite (P2,699) but are on a much slower 3G-only connection.

Globe, TM, Smart, Sun, and TNT mobile subscribers will have free data access to the content on DepEd Commons, though they will need to pay for data to access links on the DepEd Commons page that lead outside it. As such, having a 4G phone will let students download the videos at a reasonably faster rate. 

Cherry Mobile also has the Flare Tab Pro tablet (P5,499) that meets DepEd requirements save for the 32GB storage minimum capacity. It only has 16GB, but that can be fixed by adding a 16GB microSD card, which costs around P250 to P300. 

I downloaded a 2-minute video lesson from the DepEd Commons, which took up 10MB. 16GB is about the equivalent of 1,600 2-minute video lessons, but take note that when buying a 16GB phone, only about around 12GB or 13GB will be usable, with the rest being used by system files.

Even before the pandemic, P3,299 isn’t really spare change for most Filipinos.

Now, that represents the amount of money that would prevent some from learning through downloadable educational videos that are accessible anytime on a device or possibly through live, interactive videos.

The hope is that other methods – such as the aforementioned printed modules, TV, and radio instruction – can be just as effective for those that do not have the current means to a learning-ready device or the ability to consistently go online. – Rappler.com

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Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.