Frontlearners: Leo and Elaine De Velez’s effective online development in education
By Asha Gutierrez
A combination of intellectual assets
Leo and Elaine De Velez are both the founders of Frountlearners, Inc. Frontearners, Inc. helps students reach their full potential by helping teachers with more engaging learning materials and freeing more time for coaching students. It is about blending technology into the classroom, transforming the learning dynamics and leveling up ahead. Frontlearners blended learning materials include lessons and quizzes which are fully aligned with DepEd’s K-12 curriculum and can be accessed even when offline. The lessons range from Grade 1 level up to the Senior High School level. They have even included PSHS Exam reviewers and mock exams covering English, Math, Science, and Abstract Reasoning.
“We are into educational technology even though we are not educators ourselves,” Elaine explains. They are very passionate about education because they went through their high schools and colleges through means of scholarships that enabled them to access good education. Thus, they believe that they are products of good teachers, a good education system, and this allowed them to have opportunities such as finding jobs, going abroad, and improving their skills. “The things that we’re doing are based on our understanding on how students learn and how this can help
s x improve their competencies,” Leo says. They based their approach of blending technology into the classroom on a study made by the US National Research Council in 2005 on how students learn Math, Science, and History. Another teaching methodology they used is the Mastery Learning Method made popular by Benjamin Bloom more than 30 years ago. For them, it is also about addressing a pressing problem by creating a sustainable solution that benefits all the stakeholders in education. Frontlearners becomes the result of this vision. Leo believes that problems experienced by people or unmet needs and demands are always good starting points for new business ideas. It is about questioning everything; this is how new ideas are generated. Always think outside the box and challenge the status quo.
A new epitome on quality education
Frontlearners is an interactive e-Learning content developer and customized e-school solution provider. The company boosts student competency while helping increase school enrollment. It started in the year 2013. They offer e-lessons and e-quizzes for English, Filipino, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies for Grades 1-10. Apart from that, they have e-learning materials for the Senior High level. They offer: General Math, Probability and Statistics, Physical Science, Earth and Life Science, Earth Science, Disaster Readiness and Risk Management, Reading and Writing, Oral Communication, Media and Information Literacy, Introduction to Philosophy of the Human Person, Personal Development, Understanding Culture, Society, and Politics, Pre-Calculus, Basic Calculus, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology.
Education is known as a difficult field to thrive in. However, they decided to choose education technology given that it is aligned with their passion and skills as well as its potential to positively impact the well-being of millions of Filipino students. Based on experience from their previous start-up, they know that they have to establish
a close partnership with schools in order for their solution to be used to its full potential. Collaboration with schools became paramount for the Frontlearners e-learning methods to be effective. “We cannot be an outsider in the whole ecosystem of educating the child.” Elaine alludes.
The Department of Education aims to address the development of the different skills of learners and provides equal opportunity for all. As enhancement “we customize our solution for the specific needs of each client school.” Leo says. “We also provide assessment tools that can help students identify what more they need to learn to further improve their skills and talents.” Frontlearners provide their materials for free in the public schools while there is a minimal subscription fee for the private schools. “This way, we can sustainably help in providing everyone access to good educational materials. This is learning for all.” Leo said.
Providing Educational technology at its best
Theirs is an education technology solution that does not depend on the internet. This is what differentiates them from the others. They have come up with this idea given that the internet still fluctuates regularly in the Philippines. Also, they want to incorporate e-learning both to private and public schools whether they are in the cities on in remote rural areas, as they believe it is an effective and cost-efficient way to enhance the teaching and learning process in our schools today.
Leo and Elaine De Velez aim to make the quality of educational materials and tools better in order for the Philippines to keep up with the educational progress of other Asian countries. “In the latest World Economic Forum Report, the Quality of our Basic Education only ranks 75th among the 138 countries in the survey,” Elaine said. They are trying to enhance the quality education of the country by spreading the use of learning technology to help teachers improve the competency of the students.. “Our solution is to help the teachers make their multimedia materials with audio, video, pictures, and animation that will actually help with the discussion between the teacher and the student,” Leo explains as he shows the Frontlearners’ role in the teacher-student engagement process.
Millenials learn differently
“Millenials learn differently; they are more experiential and exploratory learners” Elaine observes. They want variety on how they learn and multimedia becomes an engagement factor for students to be motivated. Technology now helps the teacher given that available materials and quizzes are now accessible for the student’s self-learning, Leo expounds. In addition, there are now available Learning Management Systems that help free up some of the teachers’ their time so they can engage in more discussions with students. They are shifting the admin work to the computer while providing more time for teaching, coaching, and intervention. The students are digital natives. The use of technology is second nature to them. The teachers need to also migrate to the digital world and to quickly adapt the most effective ways of engaging the millennial learners.
The learner is the center of everything. This is what they believe and they have designed Frontlearners for the benefit of the students. “The students should be provided with the latest factual knowledge and the right conceptual frameworks,” Leo said. We also provide an opportunity for parents to become more involved as they can get to track their child’s learning progress.
Helping out for a better future
It is about having access to the latest tools for teaching. Leo observed that there are still many public and as well as private schools in the country which have not tried any form of education technology. He encourages potential donors to include educational content when they donate computers or tablets to the schools because eLearning is not simply about putting hardware into the classrooms; this hardware should be vehicles to deliver knowledge to the learners. “The most important part of the learning process remains to be the teacher-student engagement,” Leo says. The benefit of having devices for the students is only with the quizzing part, to allow them individually answer the quiz, and have it automatically checked. The immediate feedback helps students develop metacognitive skills or an awareness of what they know and what they don’t know, so they take ownership of their own learning. As for the teacher, having quizzes automatically checked, recorded, tracked and analyzed removes a major workload off their backs, which allows them to focus on the more important aspects of teaching, which are engaged with the students, coaching, and intervention. It is about transforming the teaching-learning process for a better quality for of education for every student. “We just have to make it better for them, for the future of our country,” Leo said.
Leo De Velez graduated from UP Diliman. He is now currently taking Masters of Liberal Arts (ALM), Mathematics for Teaching at Harvard University Extension School. He finished BS Mechanical Engineering, cum laude and as a DOST Scholar at the University of the Philippines, 1981-1986. He was the first placer in the Mechanical Engineering Board Examination in 1990. He also finished his MBA at U.P, 1998-2000. He studied in Philippine Science High School, 1977-1981. Leo has numerous accomplishments in his field of occupations. Leo was formerly Vice President for Supply at Pilipinas Shell, and Principal Service Manager at Shell Eastern Petroleum Pte. Ltd, in Singapore.
Elaine De Velez on the other hand also has her own set of intellectual prowess. She graduated from the University of Adelaide with an MBA and was awarded as the Most Outstanding Graduate, 2006-2008. She finished B.S. Chemistry, cum laude and as a DOST scholar from the University of the Philippines Los Banos, 1981-1985. She was the 7th placer of the Chemistry Board Examination in 1986. She took her high school education at the Philippine Science High School. Elaine was formerly Senior R&D Director at Johnson & Johnson Asia Pacific in Singapore and Section Head for R&D at Procter & Gamble Philippines.