Category Archives: Project-Based Learning

Valentines Day: Showing Love and Care of Others via Technology

The bad things kids (and adults, too) do with technology seem to get a ton of press. Kids “hacking” their school devices, playing games instead of doing learning activities, going to inappropriate sites, intentionally damaging equipment…

Platform for Good blog

So it was quite refreshing to find a post called “14 Ways People Showed Love Online This Year” (but, then again, what would you expect from a blog called A Platform For Good?!).

Besides, it's Valentines Day, and it's nice to remember that love isn't reserved for our partners and our families, but is also represented by how we show care for others.

So take a few minutes to explore this article.

And maybe think about:

  • How might we shift focus in the public from kids being bad (especially with technology), to how they can also be very, very good?
  • How do these examples give us ideas for our own classrooms?
  • How can we engage students in academic content, while they get to contribute to something they find to be of social significance?
  • How else might we leverage technology to show love and care for others?

Happy Valentines Day!

 

Is Project-Based Learning Supported by Research?

I'm surprised at how often I still get asked if Project-Based Learning (PBL) is supported by research (I guess this very old approach is still new to many folks…). The good news is that there is strong evidence that when project-based learning is done right, there are positive outcomes for the learners, as these quotes from research summaries point out:

“A growing body of academic research supports the use of project-based learning in schools as a way to engage students, cut absenteeism, boost cooperative learning skills, and improve test scores. Those benefits are enhanced when technology is used in a meaningful way in the projects.” (The whole research summary)

“Studies have proven that when implemented well, project-based learning (PBL) can increase retention of content and improve students' attitudes towards learning, among other benefits.” (The whole research summary)

“Overall, the research on Project-based Learning (PBL) reports positive outcomes related to student learning in the areas of content knowledge, collaborative skills, engagement and motivation, and critical thinking and problem-solving skills.” (The whole research summary)

And here is additional research on PBL.

 

“What Version of PBL Will We Be Doing?”

Recently, I reflected for the Project-Based Learning In Action newsletter, sponsored by Project Foundry, on the time a teacher asked me, “What version of PBL will we be doing?” The question was full of judgement, and smacked of the subtext, “What version is best?”

I’m not sure one is better than another.  I think each “version” shares a common set of characteristics and the recipe you use to mix those characteristics defines the version.  And I believe that each version (that includes a quality implementation of these characteristics) brings value to different goals, needs, and contexts.

Read my original post here.

It’s Your Turn:

What “versions” of PBL do you use and what do you like about them?

Apple’s “Textbooks” Potential: Product Creation Tools for Students

Recently, I reflected on Apple’s education announcement about textbooks and my opinion of textbooks in general and how they are often used in schools. Although I’m a fan of teachers who use textbooks as one educational resource, my concern is that in far too many places the textbook IS the curriculum, and that textbooks are inadequate at and insufficient for helping students create meaning from knowledge.

Despite my concerns about how textbooks are sometimes (mis)used, I stated that I saw tremendous potential in Apple’s announcement of the iBooks Author Mac app and the iTunes U iPad app.  One of those areas of potential is as a product creation tool for students.

As I have hinted here, I don’t think a person really learns until they get the opportunity to use knowledge (read: “upper level Blooms”).  So, for me, one of the exciting opportunities from yesterday’s announcement was not that there was now a tool so publishers could create interactive textbooks, but rather that there was now a tool that would allow ANYONE to create interactive BOOKS! (Someone has already used iBooks Author to publish their comics.)

Now, students and teachers have one more tool for project-based learning.  Students have another choice at their disposal when they stop to think about what kind of product would they like to create to show others what they have learned and give them a chance to learn it too!


Imagine a class where the teacher breaks down the class into teams, each team taking responsibility for one chapter of their book (animals in an ecosystem; countries in the European Union; time periods in your state’s history, themes in a novel, etc.).  And within those teams, not only would they be responsible for researching the topic of their chapter, but for deciding what was important for others to know about it, and thinking about how they could best help others learn about each aspect (text, videos, interviews, demonstrations, interactive models, illustrations).  Of course, all this under the coaching of their teacher.

Eventually, the students and teacher would compile all the components in an audience-friendly format, publish, and share.  It could even be published to the iBookstore for others to buy.  Students don’t only get a chance to use knowledge, but they would have a real audience for their product.


What might that do to the level of student engagement?

It’s Your Turn:

How might you use iBooks Author with your students?