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Policy - 11 Teaching and Learning: The Pamoja Learning Model

REF/ACSST/OPS/POS/TL160315

Empowering self-directed learners in a global online campus, with strategies that balance the flexible learning opportunities that students want, with the structured teaching conditions that they need.

Too often, students are forced into “one-size-fits-all” conditions in schools as well as in online education programmes. Pamoja Education is dedicated to ensuring that our online campus leverages the full power of instructional design, online technology, and our world-wide teaching community, so that each student can benefit from conditions that foster authentic, student-directed learning on a global scale.

The Pamoja Learning Model is built upon the premise that students need to access a broad range of quality teaching and learning opportunities that is flexible enough to suit their learning style, yet structured enough to develop their learning needs. . The cornerstone for the Pamoja Learning Model is ensuring student access to a wide range of quality content, comprehensive care and dynamic collaboration.   

Quality Content: Students require access to a wide range of quality course materials designed to engage learners in the ways that they need. We are committed to ensuring that our academic resources are:

  • produced in-house to a high standard
  • relevant to the programme needs, targeting specific curricular objectives
  • presented via a variety of media
  • sensitive to learner needs (re language, learning styles, cultural context, capacity for remediation, extension and remediation)  

Comprehensive Care: Students require access to a wide range of comprehensive instructional support services designed to help learners in the ways that they need.

  • Care in Instructional Design: Students require care in instructional design.  No matter what the educational programme or curriculum may be, instructional design should provide optimum conditions so that students can master specific academic skills and content, and demonstrate desired learning outcomes. We are committed to ensuring that our instructional design:
    • provides a quality scope and sequence for content mediation and assessment
    • offers a high quality user experience and user interface (UX / UI)
    • accommodates different learning styles through a variety of content mediation strategies and a range of assessment categories, methods and forms
    • offers suitable flexibility in recognition of different student learning styles
    • provides suitable structure in recognition of common student needs (e.g. weekly lesson structure with specific course deadlines to support students in keeping pace with the course)
    • offers a range of remediation and extension activities pursuant to assessment outcomes
    • incorporates activities and resources that foster development of students’ essential learning skills and extends their Approaches to Learning
    • leverages the online learning environment for efficiency in teaching and learning, focusing teachers’ efforts upon students’ needs in higher order instructional activities                        

Care in instructional feedback: Students require purposeful instructional feedback that is provided under a wide range of conditions. We are committed to ensuring instructional feedback that:

    • leverages global team-teaching conditions for instructional feedback and support
    • is both scheduled and spontaneous
    • is both synchronous and asynchronous
    • is both automated and personal
    • is initiated by course design, by teachers and by students
    • includes self-review and peer review

Care in student management: Secondary students’ are not fully developed self-regulated learners; they require careful management in an online learning environment. We are committed to ensuring a wide range of student support services that:

    • incorporate structured, on-site learning conditions to monitor and mentor student progress and to develop student capacity for self-regulation and ensure that they keep pace in learning (e.g. site-based coordinators; scheduled study periods; scheduled meetings between students and SBCs)
    • provide actionable data, alerts and reporting activities that permit teachers, schools, parents and PJE administrators to monitor and intervene for support student in a timely way
    • offer individualised strategies for student support coordinated by PJE School Services when required (e.g. students enrolling under special conditions)

Care in teacher training: Teachers require careful training in online pedagogy and the use of the online learning environment. We are committed to ensuring a training programme that:

    • ensures teacher readiness and ongoing support in online teaching and learning
    • offers a range of remediation and extension activities in support of ongoing training needs

Care in teacher management: Teachers require supportive monitoring and mentoring to ensure that students benefit from best practice. We are committed to ensuring that teachers:

    • benefit from team-teaching strategies for efficiency in teaching and learning, permitting teachers to focus upon higher order instructional activities (e.g. student intervention, assessment and feedback)
    • benefit from scheduled reminders and actionable data for self-monitoring and administrative support
    • benefit from individualised support strategies coordinated by administration when required

Care in Programme Evaluation: Educational programmes require ongoing evaluation to ensure continual improvement and that students benefit from best practice. We are committed to ensuring that programme evaluation:

    • includes comprehensive analyses of user profiles, user data, user feedback and student outcomes
    • provides timely reports to key stakeholders
    • informs future improvementfeatures an external agent for review (Columbia University / WASC)

Dynamic Collaboration: Students require access to a wide range of dynamic personal interactions designed to engage learners under diverse conditions. We are committed to ensuring that collaboration conditions:

  •  connect students with students and students with teachers
  • are scheduled and spontaneous
  • are synchronous and asynchronous
  • can be initiated by course design, by teachers and by students  
  • provide a variety of scale and frequency

Policy – Teaching and Learning: Approaches to Teaching and Learning

Context for ATL: In November 2012, the International Baccalaureate launched new IB programme models featuring the comprehensive integration of Approaches to Teaching and Learning (ATTL) into all IB Diploma Programme (IBDP) courses.  Given the unique way that students learn and interact in an online environment, Pamoja Education embraced the initiative and participated in the IB ATTL DP Pilot Programme[1]. The online landscape offers a welcoming environment for students to develop their approaches to learning skills and Pamoja Education is taking steps to integrate ATTL more effectively and explicitly into our courses. 

Approaches to Learning – Essential Skills: Linked closely to the attitudes and dispositions highlighted in the IB Learner Profile, Approaches to Learning (ATL) are the skills deemed critical for success for IB students in school and in life, now and into the future. The IB has identified five skills categories: thinking, communication, social, research, and self-management.  Pamoja Education has adopted these categories under the instructional term “Essential Skills”.

  • Thinking: The ability to creatively and critically analyse, apply, evaluate, synthesize, conceptualize, contextualize, reason, and solve problems.
  • Communication: The ability to produce and interpret messages effectively.
  • Social: The ability to participate and collaborate with others whilst showing awareness and respect for other cultures, varying points of view, and individual differences.
  • Research: The ability to determine the extent of information needed, locate and access information, organize and evaluate information, and use and share information effectively, efficiently, and ethically.
  • Self-management: The ability to set goals, manage time and tasks effectively, and manage your state of mind, self-motivation, resilience, and mindfulness.

While these skills are presented as five distinct categories, in reality they often overlap and instructional design and delivery encourages students to recognize connections between them.  In addition, while some students may already possess some of these skills, a goal of Pamoja Education courses is to have all students monitor, reflect, and improve upon their existing skill set. The purposeful development of these essential skills will empower our students to handle any future challenges, develop the traits outlined in the IB Learner Profile, and become true lifelong learners. 

Approaches to Teaching – Essential Strategies: Approaches to Teaching embody the main pedagogical principles that underpin delivery of the IB programmes. The IB priorities for depth of learning in these areas align with the Pamoja Learning Model objective to develop self-regulated learners. As outlined by the IB[2], this includes teaching that is:

  • Inquiry-based
  • Focused on conceptual understanding
  • Developed in local and global contexts
  • Focused on effective teamwork and collaboration
  • Differentiated to meet the needs of all learners
  • Informed by assessment

In short, Approaches to Teaching privilege activities that support the development of Approaches to Learning. Many examples of Approaches to Teaching strategies already exist within PJE courses, such as:

  • Commenting and responding to comments in discussion activities
  • Collaborating through wikis and Google Docs
  • Presenting ideas through a range of media (e.g. videos, diagrams, voice threads, and writing)
  • Completing checklists, managing online time, and self-monitoring weekly deadlines
  • Communicating through synchronous and asynchronous online tools
  • Participating in the assessment process (e.g., self and peer assessment)
  • Reflecting on learning and on dispositions to learning through journals and surveys
  • Solving problems independently and collaboratively (e.g., problem-based learning and group projects)
  • Researching a variety of ideas and perspectives
  • Forming collaborative study groups
  • Investigating theories and concepts
  • Accessing, organizing, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information
  • Completing projects and simulations

While ATTL is already inherent in Pamoja Education courses in many ways, we are taking specific steps to integrate ATTL more effectively and explicitly into instructional design in the coming years. 

Implementing ATTL more effectively and explicitly: Changes in course design, assessment practices, and roles and responsibilities are underway to raise the profile of ATTL in IBDP online courses.

ATTL initiatives in Course Design include:

  • integrating stand-alone, introductory lessons explaining ATL and setting expectations;
  • integrating stand-alone, follow-up lessons to broaden student understanding of ATL (e.g., attention literacy);
  • auditing existing course activities regarding alignment with ATT, in order to ensure that courses provide students with a variety of ways to learn the subject content, develop their ATL skills, and demonstrate understanding;
  • making connections and references to ATL more explicit within existing activities;
  • encouraging student-initiated, collaborative study groups;
  • including opportunities for self-directed and self-organized learning where students set learning goals and determine learning strategies (e.g., exam preparation);
  • integrating Live Sessions in web-conferencing conditions that are student-directed rather than rather than teacher-directed;

ATTL initiatives in Assessment Practices include:

  • Establishing conditions to reduce the amount of grading required of teacher and replace it with more extensive instructive feedback. Grades are given on summative tasks only, while feedback is given on all tasks. Increased emphasis is given to conditions for narrative feedback between student, classmates, and teacher.
  • Providing opportunities for students to reflect, showcase their growth, identify learning gaps, and set learning goals through self-reporting, portfolios and journals.

ATTL initiatives in Roles & Responsibilities include:

  • Refining the student role in activities designed to establish the ATL culture early in the course. Students will be instructed in self-regulated learning strategies within a Learning Space that encourages them to go beyond the traditional constraints of a “class section” or a single “time zone”. Under these conditions, students will be empowered to be self-directed learners. Students will benefit from increased opportunities for instructional interaction with access to global “crowd sourced” learning opportunities that exist well beyond their own section teacher, section classmates and time zone.
  • Focusing upon ATL skills through the various forms of communications between teacher, SBC, and student. For example, rather than simply answering student queries on content, teachers also engage students in ATL discussions whenever possible and appropriate.
  • Training and supporting teachers in ATT. Teacher focus during initial weeks of the course, will include emphasis upon the development of ATL skills (e.g., providing quality peer feedback) in order to establish a sound foundation for the above.

 

[1] https://xmltwo.ibo.org/publications/DP/Group0/d_0_dpatl_gui_1502_1/static/dpatl//

[2]  International Baccalaureate Organisation (2013). Approaches to Teaching and Learning in the IB Diploma Programme: Pilot 2013-2014.

 

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