Final project – Theory of Knowledge on Microsoft Teams

At the moment, Grade 11 Theory of Knowledge students wrapped up their study of Ethics and started looking at how knowledge is constructed in History.

T.O.K = Theory of Knowledge | Ancient aliens guy, Ancient aliens ...
TOK is a course that sits at the core of the DP programme, aimed at developing skills that allow students to question how knowledge is produced, shaped and consumed. It is also fertiel ground for memes on the internet.
Click to open the Unit Plan.

Why did you choose this topic? These standards?

My Theory of Knowledge class is one of my larger classes, with 16 students. During this period of Online Learning, it is also the class with the widest range of engagement. I have a few students in that class that are natural leaders, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to assign some responsibility to those students in inviting their peers to collaborate.

If you revamped a previously created learning experience, what have you changed and why? What’s been added and/or removed? Why?

The Checks Lab is an activity that my Theory of Knowledge colleagues had introduced to me in the last couple of years. It uses bank checks as evidence for the reconstruction of a story, which one could argue students these days aren’t too familiar with. I used a modified version with emails instead. Students were, ironically, more confused. I suppose you could also argue students don’t do emails as adults; they’re much more of a texting culture. So in the planning, I’ve already reverted back to the original version.

How was this learning experience (unit plan) different from or similar to other learning experiences (unit plans) you have designed?

The difference in the delivery of this plan was the tech employed to do it – Microsoft Teams. Students didn’t have access to the printed copies of the checks/emails, and weren’t physically in the same room to discuss their ideas.

How does this learning experience (unit plan) relate to what you learned in Course 1?

Like in most Theory of Knowledge classes, students learn most by understanding how the teacher and other students model the analysis of a particular knowledge issue. It is not one of those classes where you can PowerPoint students with theories and content and hope that they somehow manage to apply it in their assessments. As such, Connectivism, and routines that enable it, are at the center of this unit.

A content-drive approach to teaching TOK surfaces as IB memes on Reddit.

What has influenced you the most in Course one and how is that reflected in your learning experience/unit plan?

At my current school, we don’t use technology standards for students or educators. I appreciated the ISTE standards as a starting point for the unit so that the learning activities could be more aligned, as naturally happens with the content/skills standards from the IB documentation. It also provides more ‘substance’ for Approaches to Learning skills; collaborating on a digital platform like Teams is more specific than what the ATL on its own is able to provide as guidance.

What outcomes do you hope to see when students complete this learning experience/unit?

I hope that students will be more willing and able to call each other, or their study groups, on Teams to collaborate during online learning and beyond. WeChat, a messaging app most students hang out in, does not have the full functionality of Teams (sharing screens, recording meetings, uploading documents) nor the same user interface. It is virtually impossible to find anything older than 100 messages on WeChat. From a data privacy and child safety standpoint, schools have no oversight of what happens in a WeChat conversation.

If you facilitated this experience, how did the learners respond to it? What feedback did you collect to inform future experiences?

I did not emphasize the roles within the groups. As a result, some groups did not assign a scribe, chair or timekeeper. The biggest challenge was sending students off to their pre-assigned groups and getting them back to the same room. I modelled that the next day with a Grade 10 class, with much better results.

6 thoughts on “Final project – Theory of Knowledge on Microsoft Teams

  1. Hey Luiz! Thanks for sharing your awesome Course 1 Final Project! Love the way that you have incorporated collaborative technology into this plan. When working in a distance learning environment (as many schools are ) it is important to get students to continue to learn from and with each other. Your design of this TOK learning experience is valuable, rich and connects students. Thanks!

  2. Hey, Luiz. I like peanut butter too, so, woof!

    First off, I love the humor you deliver in your posts, thanks for that. I believe using humor with our students allows for a better relationship with them.

    I never had the opportunity as a student to attend a TOK class, so, after reading this post I decided that the first thing I will do when we are back at school will be to observe one of these classes. Or maybe I will just join one TOK session this week trough Meet. Yes, that I will do.

    I have only heard of Microsoft Teams twice during this pandemic, one time from a school that was planning on using it because they had already paid for it before and the other from a non-educational institution.

    As you mentioned WeChat is being used by your student I guess you don’t have as many options with platforms as we do. I am curious about the use of Microsoft Teams. Did you like it? Would it be an option if you had access to other platforms like Zoom and Google Meet?

    • Hi Luis!
      How did your TOK experience go? Typically TOK teachers love it when teachers from other disciplines show an interest in the course — integrating TOK into other subjects is usually a challenge for schools.

      I am happy with Teams — I like how recordings are stored in the channel instead of saved to my local computer (and then having to upload it somewhere for students to have access). In times with limited or unstable internet connectivity for a lot of students and teachers, it makes a huge difference. Zoom also had issues with their data privacy. Overall, quite happy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *