Current high school junior Ariba Syed joined Dwight Global Online School in fall 2022 specifically to enroll in the fully online International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, a pilot program now in its second and final year.
Ariba says Dwight Global’s IBDP has fulfilled her dream to expand her international education, excel in challenging academics, make friends, pursue extracurriculars, and nurture her “sparks of genius”— space research and entrepreneurship.
“The IBDP also intrigues me with how strategically it brings knowledge to young people,” said Ariba, who lives in Uttar Pradesh, India.
“I like that in addition to traditional academics, it also takes into account the Theory of Knowledge learning and the reflection process. I am a research enthusiast, so the mere idea of independent research assessments and the Extended Essay, both of which are required by the IBDP, encouraged me to pursue the IBDP at Dwight Global,” she said.
The History Behind Dwight Global’s Online IBDP
What is the story behind Dwight Global’s online IBDP?
As a frontier International Baccalaureate World School, New York City’s Dwight School has long been a leader in educational innovation, as well as a pioneer in the International Baccalaureate in the Americas.
In 2021, Dwight School continued its trailblazing tradition by partnering with the IB to pilot the IB Diploma Program online, through Dwight Global Online School, Dwight’s “Campus in the Cloud.” Dwight Global was selected by the IB as one of just two schools in the world to participate in the pilot program. The online middle and high school has been a leader in online education since 2014, and is ranked #2 Online High School by Newsweek magazine.
Dwight Global initially launched the online IBDP, a program for juniors and seniors, through a hybrid model for students enrolled at Dwight School’s New York campus. Then, in 2022, Dwight Global began its two-year pilot program, to offer students the same opportunity to pursue the widely recognized, challenging IBDP in a fully online environment.
Now finishing its second successful year of the pilo program, Dwight Global has been approved by the IB to continue offering the program next year and beyond.
“The elements that make Dwight Global a respected, highly ranked, and established online school are the very same elements that contributed significantly to our successful adaptation of the online IBDP,” said Dwight Global’s Head of School Louisa Childs. “We are thrilled to continue to provide the IBDP to students worldwide as we plan for an expanded program in the fall 2023.”
University and college admissions directors value the International Baccalaureate for the breadth and depth of its curriculum, its rigorous assessments, and its ability to provide an educational foundation for excellence that ensures students succeed at the university level.
IB-educated students are particularly strong in the areas of writing, critical thinking, study skills, and time management. Moreover, the IB program educates the whole student: academically, personally and professionally. Global mindedness, collaboration, cultural awareness, and the willingness to engage with others in a rapidly changing society are all nurtured, taught, and valued hallmarks of an IB education.
What do faculty and students say about Dwight Global’s online IB Diploma Program?
In testimonials, Dwight Global IBDP students praised both the IBDP, which allowed them to dive deeply into topics, and Dwight Global’s delivery of the program. Students said Dwight Global faculty are supportive, engaging, and experienced, and that their classes are challenging and rewarding. The IBDP also gave them the chance to collaborate with, learn from, and befriend students from all over the world.
Veteran history teacher Lou Gallo said he has noticed a tremendous amount of collaboration and communication in the IBDP program, both inside and outside of classes.
“Students like, and benefit from, the IBDP because it gives them even more of an opportunity to understand a global perspective, since students are from all over the world.”
Mr. Gallo also said the online environment has been conducive to the IB’s Approaches to Learning and Teaching, and that he is grateful and impressed with Dwight’s commitment to IBDP professional development.
Mr. Gallo’s colleague Felicia Chen teaches IBDP biology and chemistry, and agrees, saying that in her classes, “global mindedness occurs naturally.” As a teacher in the sciences, Ms. Chen is in an excellent position to assess the success of advanced online science learning, especially with online laboratory classes.
Recently, Dwight Global collaborated with Victory XR, a VR Education Software Company, to create IB science practicals using Virtual Reality. Dwight IB Diploma Program Coordinator Liz Hutton created the IB biology practicals, which were used in the first year of the pilot worldwide. Ms. Hutton and Ms. Chen together created the VR chemistry practicals, which students will use next year.
“With Dwight Global’s flexibility, students are able to continue with their professional careers while being a part of the IBDP,” Ms. Chen said. “Dwight Global’s ability to offer the DP online also opens up the accessibility of the IBDP program. Students are given the opportunity to have practical experiences without having to buy expensive laboratory equipment. VR also creates an immersive learning experience. Imagine being able to create a lifesize heart, and virtually walk into the heart to learn about the different parts of the organ!”
Typically, students receive the VR kits in the mail, with instructions on how to use the tool and software. Teachers receive Virtual Reality Education training, and are equipped to guide students with the VR practicals.
Ms. Chen explained that the practicals are conducted through both live and asynchronous lessons. “As a teacher, I can pre-record myself leading the practical. During the live session, the students and I can then join the recording, which is 3D and immersive. So during the live class, there’s a pre-recorded me in front of the classroom teaching, and in real time, I am moving around the class and checking in on the students. This is great, because I can “clone” myself, increasing the effectiveness of the practicals,” Ms. Chen said.
There have been additional benefits to VR. “Originally, our intention was for students to gain practical experiences through VR. We later found out that students are also able to take virtual field trips, and we could also be using VR for revising content, since the resources are sufficient to create the experiences,” Ms. Chen continued.
From the student perspective, Ariba is enjoying her IBDP experience. “When I joined Dwight Global for IBDP, I was intrigued to see the variety of courses offered. The classes here are small and every individual is given equal attention,” said Ariba, who holds several leadership positions, including founder and president of DwightSTEM, which connects all Dwight campuses globally to promote collaboration in prestigious STEM competitions and programs.
“I was able to make friends on my first day of school,” Ariba continued. “The class environment is non-judgemental and even the silliest questions are welcome. You can always find me asking a bunch of random questions in math with Mr. Waddington! I also think that the faculty is one of the fundamental building blocks of DG. You know you’re at an incredible place when it’s hard to answer a question about having just one favorite teacher.”
Megan Koepsell, Dwight Global’s Director of IB Studies, said parents have also been happy with the IBDP program.
“International families have always looked to the IBDP as the ‘gold standard,’ and now the program’s excellence is available to students who pursue pre-professional passions outside of school, those who live in remote locations where local schools do not provide the IBDP, and others who benefit from the flexibility of a fully online education,” said Ms. Koepsell. “We are excited about the program’s success.”
Ms. Childs said, “We are proud to have been selected to launch the IBDP in Dwight Global’s collaborative online learning community, and we look forward to many more years of providing an IB and IBDP education to students all over the world.”
Dwight Global’s online IBDP pilot program marks a remarkable innovation, solidifying The Dwight Schools’ tradition of excellence in worldwide education, across the globe and into the cloud.
By Caroline Crosson Gilpin