Extended Essay is one of the most stressful parts of IB Diploma workload, and it is hard to underestimate the importance of a good supervisor to help you along the way. IB trusts schools to do their best to assign a competent supervisor for every diploma candidate, but sometimes life gets in the way. In this article, I will explore why you may get an online supervisor and what to do if you are assigned one.
Assigning online supervisors
Your school may assign you an online supervisor for various reasons. The most popular one is that simply too many students want to write an EE in your subject. Schools usually cap the number of students one teacher can take to supervise the EE at 3-4 people; so it may happen that your school simply doesn’t have enough teachers to accommodate everyone. In these cases, students are either required to change their EE subject or will get assigned an online supervisor.
Alternatively, something may happen to your in-person supervisor, and due to personal circumstances, they won’t be able to continue supervising your EE. Personally, my supervisor retired after my first year in IB, and no other teacher could take my EE, since they all had a maximum number of students already. If it is already too late to change the topic (by the start of IB2 I had already completed the first full draft), you may get an online supervisor (you won’t have to find one yourself!)
Can I choose to do my EE with an online supervisor if I don’t think my actual one is competent?
Unfortunately, no. While you can ask other teachers (in person or online) to proofread your essay, they are not authorized to give you any formal feedback. Neither can you choose to switch supervisors: solely your school is responsible for assigning you one, and you will have to comply.
Should I panic if I get one?
No. Getting an online supervisor doesn’t mean you will fail your EE. On the contrary, it is quite likely that they are well versed in the subject and have been checking EEs for years, making them an experienced and highly qualified specialist.
It definitely will be harder to work effectively with them, because online communication has its limitations. For me personally, there were also time differences: to discuss feedback on the draft, we were meeting at 8:30am on a Sunday!
Nevertheless, overcoming these challenges is also a great way to show dedication and involvement in the process (and get those 6 marks!). The process will require a lot more independent work, since there will be no teacher standing behind your back, pushing you to stop procrastinating. Is it worth it? I promise to update this article the day I get my final EE grade!