Enhancing research on public management through open and distance e-learning

Juvy Lizette M Gervacio
University of the Philippines Open University
Los Baņos, the Philippines

When Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in November 2013, various sectors of society, locally and internationally, provided an immediate outpouring of relief and assistance to those who were affected by the disaster. Filipinos are known to be charitable people, with the Philippines ranked as 16th out of 135 countries in the World Giving Index (WGI) in 2013. The Philippines recognizes the value of voluntarism as a contributing force in overall social and economic development in the country.

Students of the Master of Public Management Programme (MPM) of the University of the Philippine Open University (UPOU) are located in various parts of the country and the world. Initial curiosity' about how the super typhoon had affected them led to research on public management, specifically in the field of voluntary sector management.

This paper attempts to answer the research question: 'How can e-learning enhance research on public management?' More specifically, it aims to: (a) provide a brief description of the MPM programme and its students; (b) describe an online tool as a mechanism for data gathering; (c) discuss the experiences of Typhoon Haiyan which the students shared; (d) show how student participation in online discussion contributed further to the concept of voluntarism in the Philippines; and (e) consider other opportunities for research in public management using e-learning.

The paper shows that four types of responses came from the students: (a) those who were affected by the typhoon, including their families; (b) those who donated directly to the victims of the typhoon; (c) those who solicited donations; and (d) those who expressed their sympathy. The paper concludes that research could be enhanced through open and distance e-learning; and it also affirms that online students are indeed co-creators of knowledge. There are also more prospects for research, especially with e-governance becoming one of the areas of public management.