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Teaching Design Online at European International School Ho Chi Minh City

Having arrived in Vietnam and completing quarantine and self-isolation, Ms. Sarah, Design Teacher at European International School Ho Chi Minh City (EIS) soon realised she would be teaching online for a while.


Teaching a practical subject such as Design in the IB programme has not been easy. Some of the difficulties with online teaching were creating appropriate resources for the subject. It was not possible to walk around and check understanding and progress of the students, especially when it came to them making their practical products. However, coming back into school and seeing the students’ final products, she is extremely proud of the way they have utilised online learning. Here are two viewpoints from students in Grades 7 and 8, who are following the IB Middle Years Programme - MYP at EIS, of the positives and challenges of doing a practical subject online and photographs of their final products.

Fiona (Grade 8) - Pop Up Cards

“This design project had given students the ability to use their creativity and design skills with the limited number of materials at home due to the online schooling situation from the pandemic.

I enjoyed the unit’s freedom when it came to creativity, in contrast to many other subjects Design had managed to give students a break from the computer while they were online. The project had also given students the chance to fully use their creativity not only because we had a limited number of supplies, but students also got the chance to personalize their cards in relation to the context of their chosen city which opens a wide range of possibilities on how their cards could turn out, instead of creating a product directly through given instructions.

Some of the challenges during this project was the lack of face-to-face communication between teachers and students. Typically, face-to-face communication during the design of handmade products is vital to Design lessons. However, due to the pandemic, teachers and students had to adapt to this situation as the instructions on how to create physical work were not directly available to them, as usually in the classroom. Therefore, students’ creativity was tested during the creation process as they applied their knowledge with limited instruction”.

Kaythlien (Grade 9) - Cardboard Model Chairs

“The IB MYP Design class is a platform where students are challenged in their creativity, whilst also taking into consideration the way to improve the planet we live on. This year, as online school took a twist, our creative minds were still working. Grade 9 and 10’s were challenged to create a Cardboard Model chair with only sustainable resources. Although this was a challenge the three criteria within the IB helped in discovering new prototypes and techniques which cause a world of creativity and future development. One of the biggest challenges I faced while making the chair is not having the teacher or peers around me to give me feedback and suggestions. Ultimately, I had to depend on myself and my gut to produce the best chair I could. However, it’s not all about the making of the chair, but to develop a high-quality chair we would need to think “what sets of economic standards does my target audience look for?”, “What will snatch the people’s attention?”. With these questions in mind, there are certain determinations and specifications the students must follow step by step to make their desired economical chair. All in all, this project was about balance. There have been equal amounts of drawing, researching, and of course the fun part - the making! It has been fun looking forward to design classes to see what my peers come up with and discovering my inner creativity”.