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IBDP | Students | technology

Technology in the IBDP – How do we utilise technology for our students?

Our guest writer for this week is Chris Lister. Chris is an IBDP Visual Arts teacher at the United Nations International School of Hanoi. He is an IBDP & MYP Visual Arts moderator, team leader and senior examiner, with twelve years of IBDP, IBMYP, IBPYP and IGCSE experience.

It comes as no surprise that teaching and learning in the 21st century utilises technology in a variety of forms. There are a number of ways that teachers and students use technology within the IBDP. I will discuss some tools and approaches that I use in my teaching and that will hopefully give you some ideas for integrating technology in your own classroom.

Online resources are probably the most useful aspect of technology when teaching the IBDP, in my opinion. Rather than being limited to a library within a school, students and teachers can access thousands of online resources ranging from research papers and journals to videos and online catalogues, to name a few. In this day and age, this may seem a pretty obvious reason to use the internet. However I wanted to mention it, because the key is to enable students to identify reliable sources and to use information, that supports their own research.

In my experience of using mapping systems (having used over a dozen different platforms in various schools), a good mapping program does help with the planning process. The great thing about this type of software is that teachers can plan, write and organise their curriculum across the school. This enables effective vertical planning as well as grade-level and departmental planning. The more intuitive the software, the easier it is to use. Although I have experienced some problems with drop-down menus not matching all my courses and various clunky interfaces, these aspects have greatly improved in recent years.

A lot of students tend to rely on the internet for answers, and so they can skip some of the fundamental aspects of whatever they are learning. I spend a lot of time and energy teaching them how to use reliable resources properly, that is, with respect and in line with academic practice. While the internet is a wonderful resource and easily the most accessible collection of information, it is how our students approach using it that really makes a difference.

In my subject, Visual Arts, presentation skills are key for students to showcase their work effectively. I feel this is true for most subjects, and the use of relevant software and online platforms further pushes this skill. Apart from household programs like word-processing and slide-presentation software, there are now very impressive and useful tools out there.

Online platforms that enable users to present music, art, videos and written work really allow students to prepare for the workplace, as they are becoming increasingly streamlined in order to function at an industry level. Interactive websites and website-building tools are plentiful, and open up new ways to approach the idea of presentation. However, although we now have these tools, students must remember that the real meat and bones of the work they do comes from their own ideas and understanding of the concepts and content of whatever they are studying. These presentation software platforms can then be used to enhance student outcomes further.

Collaboration through technology is incredibly powerful and meaningful. A few years ago, I was the co-creator of an online collaborative website which involved eight international schools in four countries. Students created their own pages to display artwork. They created Vodcasts, which enabled them to explain their work. They were then paired up with students in other schools to critique each other’s work and give effective feedback. Sometimes students would also use video calls to chat in real time.

This digital tool gave the students the chance to communicate with students in other schools and countries, as well as to gain different perspectives on both their own work and that of others. The project is an example of how we can collaborate in the IBDP classroom. Other projects could include digital note-sharing, research recommendations and language exchanges, to name a few examples. This really was international education, and was rewarding for all involved, so I would highly recommend using some kind of collaborative initiative, either within your own school or by branching out to include other schools.

Communication through technology is becoming a natural way of talking to each other these days. The same applies to the IBDP classroom. The obvious tools such as email, blogs, messenger programs and social media are all widespread. However, this aspect of technology is worth mentioning, because students and teachers use these on a daily basis.

Technology is only going to advance, so the more we use it with our students, the better prepared they will be for the future. Although these tools are powerful, they need to be respected and used in the right way. This starts with the younger students and, if managed in an effective way, will offer an array of digital tools to the IBDP student.