Delivering a new subject can be filled with uncertainties and questions, but it is our work together as a teaching community that fosters student development and success. In this blog, Pamoja’s Course Advisor, Zena Bjorgen, shares her reflections on our approach to course delivery.

How has Digital Society been received by students and are they enthused by the new innovative approach to content and delivery from the IB? At Pamoja we are proud to be providing Digital Society in a completely digital medium.

In their end-of-year reflections, our students overwhelmingly identified the study of AI and robotics as their favourite units in the course, allowing them to discuss candidly a tool that has the world divided! We are pleased to share the impressions of Bárbara, who reflects on the experience of studying Digital Society online with Pamoja.

First year for Pamoja’s Digital Society

By Course Advisor – Zena Bjorgen

In my last blog post “New Subject: DP Digital Society”, I reflected on the preparation and planning that took place to launch our brand new IB DP Digital Society Online Course. I shared some of the exciting changes to the approaches to learning supporting a focus on inquiry. This comes as part of the new Digital Society syllabus transitioning from Information Technology in a Global Society (ITGS). Now that a year has passed, I wanted to share what this inaugural year of teaching and leading this course at Pamoja has meant, as well as show what our students have been working on.

A favourite topic by many of our students was the unit on artificial intelligence. Besides being relevant given the explosion of ChatGPT in recent months, exploring this timely topic allowed the students to study and discuss the impacts and implications of generative AI in education and other areas of life.

We devoted the first few weeks to introducing the Digital Society course, the Digital Society Concepts, Content and Context, as well as establishing healthy habits to help students succeed in their online learning experience. After all, our students live in a digital society where our “digital systems are changing their world and transforming how they think, communicate, collaborate, and create” (IB Digital Society Subject Guide). Our Digital Society course also aims to help students build time management skills and encourage them to take ownership of their own learning. Doing so sometimes requires a mind shift for students and there is a learning curve. The process leads to a well-rounded student who is self-directed and practices inquiry, one who is ready for the next academic challenge following graduation from high school.

As the course went on, our students explored topics related to data, algorithms, computers, networks, the Internet, media, artificial intelligence, robots and autonomous technologies, simultaneously connecting all of those to the course concepts. A favourite topic by many of our students was the unit on artificial intelligence. Besides being relevant given the explosion of ChatGPT in recent months, exploring this timely topic allowed the students to study and discuss the impact and implications of Generative AI in education and other areas. Some of our teachers used Generative AI for creating supportive resources and some students even selected this area of study as the topic of their Internal Assessment research.

The Internal Assessment has changed drastically, compared with the previous ITGS course syllabus. Our approach for the Digital Society online course is to provide multiple weeks of introduction and preparation for the students to become familiar with, and prepare for, the IA. Because the course is built around inquiry (self and teacher-directed), pursuing an Internal Assessment Inquiry Focus comes naturally, resulting in the students organically selecting an area of interest. In addition, our course helps students develop when it comes to research, analysis, and using digital systems, those being the essential skills that the students need to successfully complete this critical component. The beauty of an online course that requires using digital systems to study our digital society is that students are bathed in it.

If you or your students are interested in learning more about our IB Digital Society online course, please get in touch.

A Student’s Reflection on the Course

By Bárbara (M2024 Cohort)

“Overall, I am very satisfied with the Digital Society online course from Pamoja. I wasn’t sure about what to expect when the course began, and I worried that I would struggle with the amount of independent work required. However, the course fulfilled and exceeded my expectations. It is very well structured to support learning, so you are always given a clear outline of the topic, which is useful, especially as the course consists mainly of independent learning. Studying in this way means that you can revise for exams easily and be prepared for what you will learn in the future.

The course runs on the ManageBac platform, which is excellent at helping students keep up with their assignments. You receive weekly notifications about the tasks that are pending, and announcements from the teacher.

This course has inspired me to write my EE on quantum computers!

Personally, I really enjoyed the assignments we were given, especially the research ones that gave me the chance to investigate the concepts I am most interested in, and to find real-life examples. I also appreciate how most weeks we had to share our findings with classmates and got to read and comment on their work. This made us interact with each other – even if we didn’t come together face-to-face, we talked frequently. At first discussion tasks were challenging because we had to organise our time to be able to learn the content, do the research, and post our findings two days before the deadline so our classmates would have the time to comment on our posts. With good time management, this too became easier. Also, the online teachers were very considerate of our different timetables; they planned two zoom meetings almost every week so students could attend at least one.

Before joining the course, I was worried about not having time to attend any meetings or not receiving enough guidance. However, my teacher responded to all my questions incredibly quickly, and was very understanding of any issue I had.

In sum, I enjoyed this course so much that it inspired me to write my EE on quantum computers!”