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How the IB learner profile can help students during COVID-19―Part I

Hani Al Refo, Head of Arabic at ACS Doha International School reflects on the 10 attributes of the IB learner profile and their contribution to the development of IB students amidst the outbreak. This is Hani’s first segment of a two-part discussion.

IB learner profile

By Hani Al Refo  

The IB Learner Profile is the core of the IB

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has forced millions of students to study remotely. Schools and universities are exploring different solutions to ensure the continuity of education, and students and teachers are making significant efforts to adapt. Technology has acted as a catalyst, continuing educational processes through online learning and maintaining communication between students and teachers through virtual screens and classrooms.

This focus on virtual learning, despite its limitations and challenges, offers IB students and teachers an opportunity to make the most of the experience. The IB programmes’ structure, curriculum assessment, assessment flexibility and IB learner profile are key factors in continuing a quality educational process despite the challenges.

The flexibility and dynamism of IB curriculum enables educational processes to operate within new teaching and learning environments. The IB pedagogical approach fosters innovative methodology and prepares students to face any learning obstacles they might come across. The emphasis on developing learning styles meets the needs of students with different requirements since the IB curriculum helps to sustain the educational processes by promoting the use of a variety of teaching and learning resources.

Moreover, the IB curriculum and the IB learner profile attributes develop a variety of 21st-century skills. Students who have these attributes are better equipped to continue learning under these new circumstances than non-IB students.

“This focus on virtual learning, despite its limitations and challenges, offers IB students and teachers an opportunity to make the most of the experience.”

Inquiring students, with their thirst for knowledge, cognitive curiosity and enthusiasm, can carry on researching and exploring. Remote learning does not discourage them from learning. They endeavour to quench their thirst for knowledge, to learn and adapt to changes and challenges. This type of student makes the most of any situation (and helps to facilitate the task for teachers).

Knowledgeable students can broaden their knowledge and pursue new areas of study. Being knowledgeable about their environment gives them a better understanding of the nature of the new educational environment and the ability to deal with problems arising from the new reality.

The thinker attribute allows students to think through problems and find solutions themselves, without face-to-face teacher supervision. Their ability to recognize and analyze gives students opportunities to overcome any challenges and make solid decisions.

A communicator always finds new, creative and diverse channels to communicate with their teachers, peers, fellow students and their community. Communication and collaboration create bridges and networks with others, especially when conditions prevent them from attending classes at school.

Principled students are aware of critical circumstances and of the urgent need to carry on education for the benefit of the entire community. They also realize the great efforts of teachers and schools to continue providing education, thus behaving honestly and responsibly despite their teachers’ absence. These students are also aware of their own responsibilities in this process and do not need to be reminded of them.

Open-minded students show a readiness to learn by means of applying virtual classroom tools and strategies, often in new and unfamiliar ways. They are willing to take advantage of others’ experiences and expertise, accepting changes and innovation, and demonstrating an understanding of the new learning methods.

Caring students can collaborate with fellow students and teachers. This student will make every effort to aid other students who need educational resources or technical support to pursue learning.

The risk-taker is not afraid of fluctuation or change and uses skills and flexibility as a shield against any difficulties or challenges. When there is no opportunity to learn face-to-face, risk-taker students develop new skills and hone their existing skills to resolve challenges and to think of solutions. The ability to be self-reliant mitigates against the loss of traditional learning methods incurred when school doors are shut.

Balanced students may be less affected by the consequences of virtual learning. A balanced student pays attention to detail, understanding the importance of communicating with family and friends, and that staying inside for virtual lessons should be balanced by taking time off the screen and doing physical exercise. Their ability to balance emotional and physical needs enables them to be more resilient in emergency conditions.

Reflective students can continuously review the strengths and weaknesses of their performance. They reflect on what is important and what it means to be a student and a world citizen.

Accordingly, students with learner profile attributes are more likely to succeed in virtual learning. Putting the learner at the centre of the educational process gives them the skills and qualities necessary to cope and make the most of the new situation.

In the second part of this article, Hani Al Ref will explore how the Learner Profile helps teachers during the COVID-19 crisis. Look out for part two!

hani 2

Hani Al Refo is a lifelong learner, poet, IB MYP and DP educator and examiner. Head of Arabic and Islamic Studies department at ACS Doha International School. A passionate educator with more than 20 years of experience in teaching Arabic and Islamic studies for the native and non-native learners in Jordan and Qatar. Always seeks knowledge and life experiences.

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