Rene Zou attended the American International School of Guangzhou in China and studied IBDP Spanish ab initio as an online course with Pamoja. She achieved an IB grade of 7. Rene describes what she liked about learning online and shares her advice for students just starting out with online courses.
Three things I really liked about studying an IBDP subject online:
I think online learning has a very cosmopolitan feel to it, which matches well with the IB programme as a whole. In a virtual classroom with teachers and classmates from all over the world, we got the chance to learn about each other’s cultures (for my course we were expressing this in Spanish), and more importantly we extended our learning of the language to the appreciation of traditions, history, culture and more.
Online learning gives students the opportunity to utilise different media to display knowledge. Technology is very much present in the Pamoja course, and we were often asked to create presentations, complete recordings, and participate in discussions online. Doing group work online and interviews through Skype was a very different process but also a thrilling new experience – and good memories when you look back.
We learnt how to write and communicate in different types of situations and forms. For example, the format used for letters, posters, emails, diary entries, announcements and speeches are all different and these were all integrated into our weekly exercises, which made us aware of the different nuances, and helped us with the final exam as well.
Six tips for students taking an IB online course this year:
- Time Management is such an important skill to have for an online course like this. My suggestion is to make a checklist. More specifically, make a checklist that allocates specific times for each task. So instead of just writing down a checklist of things to do each day, also anticipate the time needed for each task – and try to stick with it.
- Multi-tasking is counter-productive in my opinion, so focusing on one task at a time and finishing that as thoroughly as possible with efficiency in mind, should be the goal.
- Procrastination definitely becomes an issue when there’s no one looking over your shoulder. But I think it`s important to develop the mind-set that the time you will get to relax after finishing a task is much more rewarding than the time you spent doing other things – and then have to be worrying about the work you haven’t finished!
- If there’s something more urgent at hand, it’s not a big deal to finish Pamoja work later – as long as you have a feasible time in mind to complete it.
- If you anticipate an upcoming event that will take time off your hands, e.g. a school trip, it’s really helpful to be in touch with the Pamoja teachers and the Site-based Coordinator beforehand, and they will definitely be accommodating. Also get more of your work done before the trip.
- Take notes for each lesson, do the exercises and prepare before interviews.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help; your teachers and classmates are there to support you.