My name is Debbie Fees, and alongside my colleague Jen Leonard, I am the DP Co-Coordinator and Site-based Coordinator at Sussex Academy in Georgetown, Delaware, USA.
We are a small school (but growing!), and at this time we do not have enough teachers to be able to provide enough choices for all of our Diploma Programme students. To satisfy the sixth course requirement, we offer IB Design Tech in our school, but for our students who are not interested in engineering we need other choices. Pamoja offers a nice variety of choices that excite our students, notably Business Management, Economics, and Psychology. We would not be able to offer the IB DP if it weren’t for Pamoja.
The experience has been excellent. The “old” platform that was used a few years ago had some issues, but the students really like the new platform. The teachers are top notch and communicate well with the students. When there are tech problems, it seems that Pamoja works hard to find the solution, and meanwhile the teachers are understanding and accommodating. When I have a question of any type, the response from Pamoja is prompt, professional, and caring.
I feel that the online platform has helped in student preparation for college. We evaluate students before enrolling them to ensure that they already have some of the self-management skills needed to be successful in their course, but by studying with Pamoja they do further develop their skills as an online learner. Since many college classes have some online component, online learning through Pamoja is a wonderful experience for our students.
When students who are taking the same subject with Pamoja have the same teacher, they have great discussions about what they are learning – it really helps them to work together. The feedback from the students ranges from “it’s okay” to “it’s my favourite course!”. I believe that most students really like their Pamoja course because it is a content area in which they have a deep interest. Most students have greatly enjoyed being part of an international classroom with students and teachers from all over the world. While this sometimes presents challenges (time zones!), students often say that what they liked most about Pamoja is the global connectedness.
For other schools that need to broaden their programme or have students with specific interests, I would definitely recommend Pamoja. For schools that use Pamoja, I would suggest that they schedule all of their Pamoja students to have their work period at the same time, even if their courses are different. This has worked very well for us so that students can help each other with technology and have discussions about content, and they generally feel less isolated. Overall, as a school, we are very pleased with Pamoja.
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