Written by Amelia from Gjøvik videregående skole, Norway
It has now been six months since I began my Pamoja Online Courses and during those six months the world has been a crazy place, to say the least. Looking back over the past six months and what has happened, I realise that I have learnt a lot.
Although COVID-19 cases are relatively low here in Norway, we have had numerous incidents where we abruptly went into online learning. Each time we went into online learning, our teachers struggled to suddenly redesign their lesson plans so that they would fit with the nature of online learning and there was an all-round air of confusion. Some days we would get to go to school, yet on other days, we did not, and because of this, our physical learning was greatly disrupted. However, during this time, I could count on my Pamoja courses to still allow me to learn like normal. I think that during online school, Pamoja was almost like a sense of normality for me. I also believe that the time management and digital communication skills which I have gained from my Pamoja courses have helped me to better adapt to online learning.
Staying connected amidst a global pandemic has definitely proven to be a challenge, yet, in my Pamoja courses, it felt like I was part of a wider, international community. For me, it has been really interesting to chat with my classmates and to also see how much the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic varies between countries. The Pamoja community has allowed me to have regular contact with people whom I would probably have never met if I had not undertaken Pamoja Online Courses. Although I have never met my Pamoja classmates in real life, we have built a strong sense of community, for which I am extremely thankful. Both my Business Management and French Ab Initio, have a great social aspect to them, which is seamlessly intertwined with classwork.
In my French Ab Initio course, we have discussion forums where we discuss many different topics and respond to our classmates’ ideas, and every two weeks, we have a group oral discussion via Zoom. These group oral discussions are structured in such a way so that it does not even feel like you are doing schoolwork. In these discussions, although my French skills are limited, I can speak with students from all over the globe. Now, looking back, I realise how important these discussions have been in providing a social aspect to my everyday life, particularly in times where I was undertaking online learning.
In my Business Management course there are also numerous social aspects. In the past 6 months we have completed a lot of project-based learning tasks where we learn through collaborating on group projects. These group projects have allowed me to develop a lot, especially in terms of communication, collaborative and time management skills. Each time we have undertaken a group project, my teacher has allocated us into groups with students who have similar time zones, and it is through these group allocations that I have met people from Zambia, Spain, Italy and the United Arab Emirates. Working on these group projects has been a highlight of the Business Management course as you really get to know your peers. I have spent many hours laughing over Zoom calls with my classmates as we worked on various projects. Even now, I still regularly talk with my classmates from the previous projects. For me, these projects couldn’t have come at a better time, since often, the projects coincided with the time when my school unexpectedly went into online learning. The collaborative aspects of these projects has meant that the feeling of isolation which I felt during online school was often negated due to constant communication and online tasks..
I think that being able to participate in Pamoja Online Courses has strengthened my abilities to learn flexibly, collaboratively and creatively. Now, amidst a global pandemic, these skills have been extremely useful, and they have allowed me to apply knowledge and skills learnt from Pamoja into my courses at school. Since my Pamoja courses are so flexible, it has also allowed me not to feel as drained after a day of online school. Constantly joining calls for online school was exhausting for me, but since I took Pamoja Online courses as well, I could schedule my time so that I would have more breaks in-between calls for online school. This meant that I could participate in my Pamoja Online Courses in the evening, in the morning before class, or whenever else I wanted to. This type of flexibility that my online courses gave me was extremely beneficial to not only my well-being but also to my academic achievements, particularly during the periods of online learning. It was through my Pamoja Online Courses, that my learning maintained a sense of normality during these turbulent times, and that I was able to still experience the internationally minded learning environment – which I love.
Amelia is a first year IB student who recently moved to Gjøvik videregående Skole in Norway from Germany. She is currently studying Business Management HL and French ab initio with Pamoja Online Courses.