When I was in my junior year in college, my professor asked us to submit a some-sort-of-canned output for our final presentation in our Radio and TV class. With scarce resources where gadgets and home-studios were once a luxury (especially in the ’90s), we end up recording our canned project to government-owned studios, careful not to overuse nor damage the reel-to-reel audiotape for we were allowed to record using their equipment for free.
Honestly, the activity was too taxing because we were extra careful not to retake our part, more than thrice because obviously of the above reason. As I imagined this scenario and experience it single-handedly, it made me realize that our class effort before, was a product of utmost dedication and focus plus the skill of mastery.
Fast-forward. When I entered government service years ago, the equipment we use was not that categorized as “high-tech” and readily available because the process was still a bit slow, though it is already mechanical. But if you compare it today, we are at par way beyond because almost everything is accessible including gadgets, cameras, and home-studios since, it is no longer a luxury but a necessity.
When the COVID-19 pandemic strikes the entire humanity, our usual goings were affected. Many if not the majority in an instant were stunned about the 160-degree turn of events. In short, the fast-paced society becomes a Neanderthal-like scenario where large gatherings are prohibited, curfew in-place, checkpoints in tow, travels banned and protocols strictly implemented.
Thus, we in the Agricultural Training Institute in Central Visayas, which area of coverage are the island provinces of Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor just like others is largely affected. Our extension and training activities were aligned to fit in with the needs of our clients and at the same time proceeded with a slight delay, target numbers dwindled and its delivery sorted to “canned” medium.
The word “canned” means, prepared beforehand and remains unaltered during the presentation.
ATI-7 sorted to “canned” medium in delivering our training and extension because not all of our clients have stable or accessibility to internet connection. Some areas do not even have mobile signals; thus, the online means is way beyond reality.
Before sorting to this kind of medium, the small interim group brainstormed and sorted to enroll online classes and at the same time researched simple yet effective “canned outputs.”
The first run of this extension modality was the conduct of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) Information Caravan with two (2) priority provinces in the region, Bohol and Negros Oriental that caters 39 towns with a total of 800 farmers while the second is the Extension Delivery Services (EDS) Training for newly-hired agricultural extension workers in the region.
Using the “canned medium”, it gave me three (3) lessons that I consider it so valuable. These are patience, self-confidence, and trust.
Why patience? The preparation is no simple for it entails a lot of hard work. Imagine, transforming your four-hour topic into an hour or less to eradicate monotony with inputs concise and full. With the repetition of video recording and editing to perfect and sync the presentation entails a bucket of patience.
The three-week leeway in sending the video in Universal Serial Bus (USB) flash or thumb drive through courier takes patience because chartered boats and planes’ schedule is unstable. There are no other means of sending the file especially those areas with no stable or internet connection. With this delay, we must be patient as well to receive the reports that we need on what had happened in the field.
The second lesson that I consider valuable is self-confidence. Preparing materials and other resources to be delivered are a plus to extension workers. Facing the camera, however, is yet another dimension to be explored. It takes a lot of courage especially us, extension agents who are equipped and experienced in touch-based approach or shall I say, face-to-face.
Building self-confidence in facing the camera is yet another hurdle to face. It is not instant, but with the need to deliver our extension services beyond boundaries, we must face our demons. By facing such, we explore means through how-to videos, braving ourselves to take and retake every scene until near perfection, and accept the fact that this is our responsibility to our partners and clients.
Finally, trust is a big word. Through “canned medium” we build trust between our partners and our institution. We trusted our side to produce what is ought to be given, while we trusted our partners to deliver the extension services in our behalf.
Trust here played a great role in everything we do. Since, we trusted that the “canned medium” is one of the means to deliver our training and services in this time of pandemic, us partners, we also forge that mutual trust with each other. To continue learning, we face a lot of risks.
Yesterday's experiences of the once slow-paced world re-emerge because the pandemic gives us a lot of lessons to somehow make our life full by taking a pause, to breathe, and use our common sense that is now uncommon of all.
We, at ATI, strive to keep these values at heart so that, whatever means we think that we can use and innovate, new or old, as long as the purpose of touching and changing the lives of our farmers, fishers, youth, women, and our clientele are achieved and in-place.