BLOGS  >  MARCH 27, 2023

Digital Society for the IB Diploma: Planning Your Course Outline


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One of the major dilemmas that has surfaced since the release of the Digital Society Guide and the publishing of our Digital Society coursebook is how to organize the topics and teach the learning activities and assessments in a well-organized course of study.

There are many dimensions that need to be considered. The first consideration relates to whether the class consists of:

  • Only Standard Level (SL) students
  • Only Higher Level (HL) students
  • A combination of SL and HL students

All these possibilities contribute to a unique course outline.

The next challenge is organizing the sequence and depth of discussion of the three Cs: Concepts, Content, and Contexts. The course should be introduced through the Digital Society framework and by using simple inquiries and real-world examples that include digital technologies familiar to the students. Section 1: Understanding Digital Society and Section 2: Concepts from the Digital Society textbook demonstrate this approach and are aligned with the Digital Society Guide.

Next, students need an understanding of the various digital technologies (Section 3: Content) and need to investigate relevant real-world examples and the impacts of those digital technologies on individuals and communities. This is covered in more depth here than in Section 2: Concepts, and each topic in Section 3: Content relates to specific contexts and concepts. The digital technologies should not be studied in isolation.

At this point, Section 4: Contexts allows for the study of seven topic areas in any order. Each topic includes real-world examples that integrate Context, Content, and Concepts and ensures that all aspects of the Digital Society framework have been addressed. If the class consists of SL and HL students, the order of the topics for the SL/HL Core may need to be aligned with topics in Section 5 of HL Extension: Challenges and Interventions.

After the basic course outline is determined, it will need to be further developed by considering:

  • Schedule limitations: school holidays, school assessments, study leave, etc.
  • Connections to other Diploma Programme (DP) subjects, Theory of Knowledge, Extended Essay, and Creative, Activity, Service
  • A wide range of teaching and learning activities which encourage collaboration and the development of Approaches to Learning skills and are based upon the inquiry process (and extended inquiry for HL students)
  • Activities throughout the course so that the knowledge and skills for the inquiry project will be developed before the inquiry project begins in Section 8: Inquiry Project – Internal Assessment
  • Development of the inquiry project begins in the last one to two months of year one and continues into the first three months of year two. The final submission of the inquiry project should not compete with the final submission of extended essays and submission of Internal Assessments in other DP subjects.
  • All of the subtopics in the tables in the Digital Society Guide are addressed (e.g., Prescribed Enduring Understandings, Prescribed Areas for Inquiry, Supporting Details)
  • The HL pre-release requires 30 hours of teaching time from the date of publishing (five months before the actual examinations begin) until the mock examination. Additional time will be required for secondary and primary research.
  • A range of formative and summative assessments (Section 7: How to Approach External Assessments)

The Digital Society coursebook is organized so that topics from the various sections can be considered sequentially or integrated as needed in the course outline.

Here is my sample course outline for consideration. You might find it useful. 

In considering the course outline, you need to remember to indicate:

  • The nature of the class: SL only, HL only, or SL/HL combined.
  • The number of lessons per week for SL and HL students.
  • The length (in minutes) for each lesson.

I look forward to us collaborating and sharing our course outlines with the network of Digital Society educators!

Barbara Stefanics
Barbara Stefanics is an IB teacher, examiner, workshop leader, DP consultant and course reviewer, and a DS and technology faculty member for My IB.

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