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IB Diploma curriculum to include fake news, social media algorithms and privacy

May 16, 2019

Students of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) and Career-related Programme (CP) will soon get to learn about fake news, security, social media algorithms and privacy, in the latest curriculum update and launch of new course, digital society.

The digital society course is a dynamic and concept-rich update of the current information technology in a global society (ITGS) offering and speaks to the ongoing belief of the IB and its educator community in the importance of ethical, social and cultural understanding of technology and media.

The new course will complement the other newly updated courses in the DP and CP, including computer science, global politics, social and cultural anthropology and theory of knowledge.

Commenting on the curriculum update, Joel Adams, curriculum manager for emerging digital societies course, said, “Digital technology and media are changing our world and transforming how we think, communicate and create. For the last two years, we have been hard at work designing for these changes with this exciting updated course. Digital society will allow educators and young people to critically explore the changing world to better understand where we are now and imagine where we might go next.”

The course approaches technologies and media through social, cultural and ethical lenses. Central to the course are key perspectives and approaches that tap into the rich value that humanities and social sciences bring to a range of contemporary global challenges.

Adams added, “One of the most important aspects of the digital society course is a core unit on ethics, norms and policies that we are calling values. This unit asks students to explore a diverse range of ethical frameworks and consider how these frameworks can help inform our understanding of real-world digital policies and dilemmas such as privacy, security, intellectual property and political activism.”

As part of the values unit, students will explore global and ethical value systems and match these to pressing dilemmas in digital society through practical exercises and project-based activities. A media project – also part of the course – will ask students to investigate and evaluate the ethical, social and cultural implications rising from the use of digital technologies and media in the world around them.

Higher level students will participate in an extension unit bringing together cutting-edge multidisciplinary perspectives in the social sciences and humanities, including those in psychology, history, philosophy, political science and more.

Adams said, “Through a series of depth studies and projects, students will investigate a global pressing challenge (such as those highlighted by the UN SDGs) and how it impacts their local and personal context and connect to contemporary practical research in order to present possible ‘digital interventions’. Interventions are defined broadly and could include making a new app to navigate urban food deserts, suggesting changes to a school’s digital access policy or even tweaking algorithmic recommendation systems to mitigate bias.”

Building on the strengths and expertise in the current ITGS offering, the course will provide additional opportunities to explore contemporary digital society from inquiry-rich perspectives that empower teachers and students to forge connections between their own experiences, real world issues and the new course’s broad multi-disciplinary content.

Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the International Baccalaureate is a non-profit foundation that offers four high quality and challenging educational programmes to students aged 3-19 years old. The IB currently engages with more than 1.4 million students in over 5,000 schools across 153 countries.

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