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How to Succeed in Online Courses (Pamoja)

If this is your first time hearing about Pamoja, it’s an online educational platform that offers courses for IB students across the globe. The online courses offered by Pamoja are taught by experienced teachers, and it is a great option for students whose schools don’t offer specific courses. However, this opportunity might not be advantageous to all students, as everyone has different learning preferences.

Is Pamoja right for you?

If you want to take an IB course offered by Pamoja, it is important to weigh your personal strengths and weaknesses as the learning experience through Pamoja is unique. Some questions to consider include: 

  • Are you responsible with deadlines? 
  • Do you work better independently than in groups? 
  • Are you organized? 
  • Do you keep an agenda or to-do lists for your tasks and projects? 
  • Can you conduct thorough research without extensive supervision? 
  • Are you passionate about the subject you want to learn through Pamoja? 

If you answered ‘Yes’ to most of the questions, then Pamoja might be the right fit for you!

Challenging, but Worth the Effort

While it may seem like an easy solution, the course rigor is not any different from a regular IB course. In fact, it might even require more attention than any other subject, especially if you want to take an HL subject! Not only do you have to keep track of your own schedule, but oftentimes you must do extra research to understand the material and get your questions answered independently. Additionally, face-to-face online sessions don’t happen often, so it’s important to be able to communicate well through other forms. However, many students succeed with this style of learning.

Tips to Succeed

I spent a lot of time figuring out the right plan of action during the first few months of my Pamoja Psychology HL class. Below, I compiled some of the most impactful tips that truly made a difference in my learning experience!

1. Create a weekly plan

One of my teachers advised me to create a weekly plan and update it every time a task is assigned or completed, which has been one of the most useful organizational tips for me. Assignments are given weekly! The start of the week on Pamoja in my time zone is on Wednesday, so I created a detailed plan to organize my tasks throughout the week. Here is a sample of one of my weeks:

I shaded in Wednesday-Saturday green as I aim to complete all assignments during those days. Red is the last day of my Pamoja week!

You can use a similar template, or whatever works best for you. As long as you keep track of all your assignments, you will definitely not face any issues with deadlines or cramming.

2. Organize your notes by sections/topics

When I first started taking notes, I was unsure of how to organize them. Should I organize them by dates? Weeks? Lessons? Topics? Finally, I decided that organizing my notes under the main topics, their section names, and headings was the most useful for me. 

The app I use for note taking is OneNote, which has been a game changer as it has so many useful organizational features! Since I take notes online, I can easily search for keywords under particular sections. Whenever I need to find information quickly, I can search through a visual table of contents and locate what I need with ease. Moreover, I add the date to the section I am writing about, so that when I go back to study, I use retrieval practice to better remember the information.

3. Get physical textbooks

While Pamoja provides the content needed for the IB online course, I found that having a physical textbook with me while studying changed the way I focused on the material. Personally, I ordered the Course Companion and Study Guide provided by Oxford in collaboration with the IBO, so the textbooks were officially approved. 

I found the textbooks to be extremely useful since I got another point of view on the material I was learning, and I was able to make my own notes in the book. Because I’m more comfortable with physical material than with online material, I invested in the Study Guide as well, as it has condensed information clearly presented for exam revision. 

4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

At first, I was hesitant to reach out to my teacher because I haven’t met or talked to them before. However, once I started to get grades back for my assignments, I realized that without communication with my teacher, it would be very difficult for me to truly understand the feedback given to me.

As learning through Pamoja is done very independently, it is important to be able to do your own research and try to find answers to your own questions. However, some topics are more complicated than others. Don’t hesitate to write an email to your teacher or post your questions on the discussion board! Use all the resources provided, especially the connection with your teacher.

5. Reach out to your peers

Last but not least, don’t hesitate to reach out to your peers. Many are in the same situation as you, and might be looking for help as well! You could find many useful resources that others might be using, and if you ever need further explanations of  assignments, someone could have your back in this situation. Moreover, discussing the subject may help you learn certain concepts better!

If you see an interesting comment on the discussion board or even a kind peer review of your work, reach out and let them know! 

Last thoughts

Is Pamoja right for you? Many students find that online, independent learning works best for them. However, no student is the same. Consider all your options and choose wisely! Try out several studying methods to figure out how you can make the best of the time you have. Actively engage with your teachers and advisors, and determine whether Pamoja will be beneficial for you.

Above all, it is important to understand that the IB is a learning experience, and pushing yourself to become a more developed individual is one of the most rewarding aspects of the program. It’s all about finding what works best for you! Discovering your personal preferences, strengths, and areas to work on are important parts of becoming a responsible student – all of which will help you succeed in the IBDP and beyond.

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1 comment

  1. Great article, Daria! Super helpful tips and concrete strategies for success in an online course. Thank you for sharing!!

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