IBDP Core Courses in the Era of COVID-19
Nannan MU, Escola Kao Yip, Macau
Chong Wa InternationalBaccalaureate School Association (CISA) launched an online seminar on the topic of “IBDP Core Courses in the Era of COVID-19” on 29th October 2021. The speaker Ms. Nannan Mu is Director of Academics at Escola Kao Yip Macau, one of the CISA’s founding schools.
Three core courses of IBDP can be a powerful weapon to defeat the VUCA world the pandemic COVID-19 has dragged all of us into. Rethinking the core courses in the era of COVID-19 helps educators and students not only mitigate the many negative impacts brought by the pandemic, but also transform VUCA from “Volatile, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity” to “Vision, Understanding, Clarity, Agility”.
1. CAS vs. COVID-19
In a volatile world, CAS is the key to broaden our vision. “Creative” is the first word in CAS. During the pandemic outbreak, numerous traditional CAS activities or projects have been either cancelled or restricted. Face-to-face events and communication are avoided to maintain safe social distance. It seems hard at first to imagine a virtual CAS programme when EconomicsHL or Chemistry SL is taught online.
However, IB has always encourages students to be creative and to “think globally and act locally”.Asking reflective questions helps students re-imagine how CAS can become. One of the CAS learning outcomes for students is “to demonstrate engagement with issues of global significance”. UN’s 17 SDGs are such issues. Many reflective questions can be asked for each of the 17 SDGs in the context of students' local community. For example, SDG No.1 is “poverty”. Students may ask themselves questions such as “What financial problems has the COVID-19 pandemic brought to people in your community?”, or, “What about the children from your community? Have their study and life been affected (if parent lose jobs or have pay cut)?” These questions will help students look for answers to “What can you do to help these children?” and then take possible actions. A virtual volunteering story on the IB website (screencast below) is an answer and a follow-up action to combat “poverty” locally in the era of COVID-19.
SDG 12 is “responsible consumption and production”. Students may ask themselves questions such as“During the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, do you and your community member order takeaway and shop online more frequently? How are the plastic or paper packages disposed of?”, or “How do you and your community members dispose of used face masks?”, and then “What can you do to encourage your community members to pay attention to such problems?”. Such reflections will naturally lead to various CAS projects/activities as “sewing face masks” published on the IB website.
Other CAS ideas include: to develop WeChat App of Accessibility Map, to design STEM programmes for young children in local communities, or to compose “thank you” songs to express gratitude to the medical staff working to combat the pandemic, etc...
2. EE vs. COVID-19
EE in the era of COVID-19provides many possible opportunities for students to train their ATL skills. Students can become clear of their strengths and areas for development.
3. TOK vs. COVID-19
COVID-19 brings much “food for thought” at TOK class. Students can further their understanding of themselves and knowledge in this vast world. In the unit of “knowledge and technology”, teachers may lead students to discuss questions such as “What technologies have been used in our combat of COVID-19”, or “How do the medical staff decide how to utilise limited medical resources, such as ventilators? Are these principles universal?” etc.
4. 反思 Reflection
How to turn “dangers” into“opportunities” is a question all IB educators and students ask themselves in the era of COVID-19. The three core courses of IBDP can be able to bring many meaningful teaching and learning opportunities. Agile learning is the key to not only survive but thrive in the VUCA world.