Plenty of evidence exists on how students in the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme have coped better with COVID-19 restrictions and changes in their learning environment this year. We believe this is because of their ability to adjust to change and be independent learners, and we have seen how the soft skills developed from the IB have allowed our students to thrive as learners (both in school and online), as a result of the pandemic this year.
In this blog, we’ll highlight the skills IB students exercised during the pandemic, because of the emphasis on IB Learner Profile attributes.
We teach students to collaborate with both teachers and their peers. Recognising that learning is a collaborative process, and some children were challenged by a virtual learning environment, we encouraged students to support each other with the technical and other aspects of learning online. In classes at SISD this year, it became the norm to ensure that students, both in class and online, were included in discussions, interactive activities, and multi-location group work.
IB programmes not only highlight communication skills, but we also teach students how to communicate in different ways. This extends to the virtual classroom, where we arranged for students to learn from each other. Even if children were physically isolated from their classmates, we encouraged them to connect with others and build their networks.
The inquiry attribute of the IB Learner profile sounds as simple as curiosity, but it is the foundation of teaching children how to learn independently, and with others.
Developing a student’s inquiry increases their thirst for knowledge and motivation to explore. During virtual learning, students have had increased access to a different way of learning and adapted to challenges, using technology to facilitate their learning and provide greater understanding. The more students learn with enthusiasm, the more they sustain a love of learning throughout their lives.
Adapting to a new environment instills the risk-taking attribute in students. Even if they were once afraid of change, they use skills they’re learning to deal with it, building self-reliance and resolving to face challenges positively and mitigate change.
New learning environments also instill the attribute of principle. As they become more aware of critical circumstances and the need to continue their education, students realise the efforts their schools and teachers provide through new learning opportunities, and are more willing to be responsible and maintain the process. This helps children understand how organisations and people collaborate and adapt to new systems and experiences. We certainly saw this at SISD this year, and our students rose to the challenge of a new style of learning, and also were very appreciative of their teacher’s efforts to keep them engaged and in school every day.
Independent learning is a cornerstone of IB education, in which children gain the attributes of knowledge, reflection, and thinking. Because remote learning created an environment where students were less reliant on their teachers and given online learning resources, the IB’s student-centered approach gives them the responsibility to learn, correct their mistakes, and have a growth mindset.
Having to learn during a pandemic also allowed them to reflect on their ideas and experience, understand their strengths and weaknesses to support their personal development, and gain the knowledge to engage with real issues and ideas with both local and global significance.
The IB curriculum encourages students to become thinkers by having them examine problems and find solutions without supervision. We give students opportunities to analyse challenges and decide how to overcome them, never more so than this year.
By teaching the values and traditions of others, IB programmes teach children to appreciate their cultures and personal histories. We teach students to seek and evaluate different points of view and grow from the experience.
Students exercise this attribute by learning virtual classroom tools and applying strategies that were once unfamiliar. Accepting the challenges of innovation and demonstrating new learning methods helps students keep an open mind in other real-world situations.
Nurturing curiosity and developing research skills are important tools for building student inquiry as they learn. In a virtual classroom, students have even more access as their independent research extends online.
Researching about their environment and what’s happening locally helps students understand and deal with problems arising from new experiences.
IB students not only nurture practical and soft skills when they’re tested in a practical setting but also maintain them as they transition into adulthood. Other ways to foster a sense of independent learning among students online include:
- Providing students with the authority to choose how they want to learn or show their understanding. These can include case studies, activities, and longer research assignments.
- Relying less on traditional teacher-student approaches and moving to more student-centric methods of learning, such as online breakout rooms, collaborative problem solving, and peer learning.
- Encouraging student-led discussions where students take turns talking, using the chat or comments functions to determine the order of speakers.
- Having students log off video platforms to complete assignments and be available for other students who might need help.
Acknowledging that students require a balance between time online and other activities, developing skills to balance their emotional and physical needs provides them with resilience in future situations that may be similar to what they experienced during the recent pandemic.
Read more in a previous blog we posted about the soft skills IB students gain.
For more information about our IB programmes, contact our Admissions team at firstname.lastname@example.org.