Aoba-Japan International School Fosters an Innovative Learning Community with Its Online Diploma Program

The curriculum developed by the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO) is recognized as some of the best in the world. And the Diploma Programme (DP) represents the culmination of the International Baccalaureate’s (IB) course of study. However, some students may be unable to physically attend a school that offers the DP.

It is for students such as these that Aoba-Japan International School (AJIS) has launched the Online IB Diploma Programme Pilot. AJIS is a pioneer in this area, as it is the first school not only in Japan, but also in the Asia–Pacific region to offer the program.

GoConnect spoke with Chasen Stahl, the Director of Innovation at AJIS, to learn about the unique features of the program, the technology that enables it, and how it allows a wide range of students to receive a world-class education.

What led AJIS to seek to be the first school in the Asia–Pacific region to offer the program?
Aoba has a history of innovation in international education and in particular with regards to online and hybrid learning. While most schools were forced to introduce elements of online learning in response to the Covid-19 pandemic several years ago, Aoba was one of the first schools in Japan and the rest of Asia to invest in the development of purpose-built online and hybrid education programs, starting with our high school diploma programs. The opportunity to deliver the IB Diploma Programme online allows us to make high quality international education more accessible to students all over the world thanks to our affordable, flexible, and location-free study model.

What does it mean to Aoba-Japan International School that it will be the first school in the Asia–Pacific region to offer this program?
We are humbled by the confidence and trust which the IBO has placed in us to deliver a groundbreaking pilot program such as this. We hope that our experience and findings will pave the way for even more flexible, student centered education for students around the world driven by innovative, technology supported online learning models, and that we can share this knowledge with other schools in order to increase access to quality education for all students.

What are the unique features of Aoba-Japan International School’s Online IB Diploma Programme Pilot?
Aside from the fact that this is one of the only programs in the world which allows students to achieve the esteemed IB Diploma 100% online, our program stands out in a few unique ways. First, while students and families receive a personalized, tailored experience designed specifically for online learners, they also become part of the wider Aoba community. Aoba regularly provides extracurricular, study abroad, and other opportunities to our students and those joining us online also have the option to participate in these opportunities in a flexible manner. Secondly, Aoba’s online programs are hands-on, providing students with 360 degrees of personalized support. While many online programs consist of self-paced courses, quizzes, and little else, Aoba’s online students receive the same supports as students attending our flagship in-person programs including university entrance guidance, career guidance, counseling services, personalized real-time instruction by professional teachers, and much more.

What technological innovations help enable this program? What platforms are you using?
Innovative, effective use of technology tools is absolutely essential in the delivery of high-quality online education, and Aoba places a great deal of emphasis on getting this right. Aoba integrates best-of-breed solutions in areas such as synchronous virtual learning spaces, learning analytics, student wellbeing, and artificial intelligence into a unified online learning experience which is not only academically efficacious but actually enjoyable and simple to use for students and families. Aoba is able to achieve this because we have invested into development of our own custom online education experience platform which integrates the normally confusing array of digital learning tools into a single space. This is Aoba Global Campus, and is where all learning and interaction happens in our online programs. Students simply log in, learn, and level up. It’s that simple.

How do students in the program interact with their teachers, and their fellow classmates?
We believe that online learning can and should be fun, engaging, interactive and social. School exists not only to provide students with knowledge, but to cultivate interpersonal skills and provide a community where they can create lifelong friendships and lasting memories. For this reason our instructional model is designed around regularly scheduled live classes delivered by professional IB teachers, and also incorporates team-based learning to allow students time for richer interaction and self-guided learning with their peers. But academics comprise only one part of interaction in Aoba’s online programs: students also have time to socialize and learn in a more relaxed environment thanks to online after school programs, student clubs, school events, and more. Human connection is central to online learning at Aoba and everything is designed around this concept of school community.

Is there interest in the program from students outside Japan? If so, where are these international applicants from?
Although our online program delivery is currently focused on the APAC region, we’ve received enquiries from as far away as Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East, with most of the families currently applying for enrollment joining us from other countries in the Asia–Pacific region, including Vietnam, Indonesia, Taiwan, Australia and South Korea. We are extremely grateful for all of the interest in our programs and look forward to the opportunity to serve more students across the world as our online journey continues.

How do you align with this cultural diversity of students?
The great thing about international education and the IB curriculum in particular is that it is specifically designed to recognize, celebrate, and incorporate the diverse backgrounds and perspectives of students and families into an inclusive and supportive community. Students have the opportunity to incorporate their unique perspectives into their academic work in the form of project based learning and research, as well as share their cultural contexts with other students through team-based learning structures and fun, casual online social events hosted on Aoba Global Campus. Families can join in on the fun as well by participating in our international Family Community: a place for parents and guardians to meet and form community connections.

Our school and students draw strength from this diversity, learn about other people and cultures, and are encouraged to reflect inwards so that they might recognize the value of their own perspective and how it fits into a wider global context. Families don’t join Aoba based on the strength of our academic programs alone: they join us because they understand how important it is to support their children’s growth into global citizens, and they want to be a part of a forward thinking community that does just that.

To learn more about Aoba-Japan International School’s Online IB Diploma Programme Pilot: 


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