For over 10 years, Pamoja has refined and built a model for online learning that has successfully supported 12,312 students in their IB Diploma journey. In 2019, we became a registered school of Cambridge Assessment International Education, offering Cambridge International GCSEs and International AS/A Levels. In this blog, we share a snapshot of our pedagogical model to support schools with the shift from face-to-face to successful online learning.
Flexible Learning Time and Space
Providing a weekly plan allows students to access material 24/7 and have the flexibility to complete the assigned work any time prior to the deadline, from the location that works best for them. This approach also frees up teacher time to respond to student queries and provide feedback during the week. Provide pre-recorded instructions, and ensure all links and resources are consolidated in one location for ease of access.
Scheduling individual and group synchronous lessons enables students to interact in real-time with their teacher and classmates. Use this time to clarify tasks, offer explanations and feedback, ask questions and build student engagement through interactive activities. Breakout rooms on Zoom can be used to facilitate small group or 1:1 conversations. In this way, teachers establish relationships with students that are learning focused and encourage students to take accountability and responsibility for their progress. Consider recording live lessons to share with students unable to be present; this is particularly valuable when working across multiple time zones and where students may have limited access to internet-enabled devices at home.
Draw from a variety of assessment types when planning the course. Choose a tool to best match the intended purpose: is this assessment formative and designed to help students learn, or is it summative and designed to assess student learning? How can students best demonstrate their learning? Could peer review be useful for giving students the opportunity to learn from each other? We recommend AssessPrep for the secure delivery of online summative assessments.
Engage students asynchronously via guided discussions. Start with a prompt and set clear expectations, for example each student might be expected to respond thoughtfully to two other students. Facilitate dialogue by asking further questions, connecting multiple posts, and encouraging students to bring new ideas to the table. Forums allow students to think before they speak and take their time researching and compiling a well-thought response. ManageBac has a Messages section in each class for this purpose.
Set up a clear, documented feedback loop. This should involve timely, specific responses to student work to support their academic progress and build motivation and engagement in the online learning setting. Set expectations of students about how they should respond to feedback: depending on the assignment, students could write a reflection, produce an improved copy or feedforward into the next assignment. Tools such as Flipgrid and JamBoard can be used for gathering individual student reflections. Consider dedicating a live lesson to reviewing common errors or discussing a particular point that arose in the work of many students.
Opportunities for Collaboration
Group work allows students to develop their social, leadership and communication skills, as well as establishing their identity within the online class and learning about the lives and experiences of their classmates. Group work may be assigned for the week or span over multiple weeks, depending on the nature of the task. For longer tasks, consider building in time for students to organise themselves: How will the work be divided? How will they hold one another accountable? What milestones could they set? An organisation tool such as Trello could be helpful here.
Reflecting and Reporting
Engagement ratings are a useful way of keeping students and parents informed about student progress, and for teachers monitoring the wellbeing of students and identifying concerns. Pamoja teachers submit an engagement report every 4 weeks and students self-reflect on their progress at key points throughout the course. In these self-reflections, students are assigned to reflect on their engagement, learning and essential skills. Teachers review these reflections and start a conversation around them as appropriate or needed.