Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a strategy that’s been used in education for quite some time, but it is still not used to its full potential in many schools and subjects.
With Futures Learning firmly on the agenda to help students develop skills for both a successful learning journey and for the future, high-quality PBL supports a technology-rich learning environment.
Project-Based Learning is an educational experience that engages students in the process of preparing, planning and producing a solution to a problem or a product.
A range of technologies that help students explore a problem or challenge deeply enhances PBL. A number of emerging technologies can be used in research or collaboration, digital fabrication can be used to produce a final product and classroom gamification techniques can be utilised to motivate and reward along the process. Finally, flexible learning spaces can facilitate the varied ways students will learn throughout the process of a project – much like in the real world of adult work.
For high quality PBL to occur, it’s important to recognise that simply creating a project for students to work on, research and produce a product at the end, does not automatically make it an effective PBL activity that builds Futures Learning skills in students.
Successful and effective PBL depends on the skills and motivation of the teacher, as it requires a great deal of thought, planning and commitment.
Project-Based Learning has the potential to develop all the Futures Learning skills, but only if thoroughly planned and executed by a competent and committed teacher.
The key benefits of PBL are that it:
- engages students, is memorable and provides the opportunity to learn deeply
- builds skills for life as well as learning, leads students to build confidence, take initiative, respond, solve problems, communicate ideas, be self-disciplined and work collaboratively in teams
- uses technology authentically and to produce a product that solves a problem
- allows students the chance to communicate with the real world through online social interaction, and working with other adults in the workplace other than their teacher
- puts the onus on students to learn actively and take initiative – both skills that prepare students to become lifelong learners
- gives students the chance to do what adults do everyday in the workplace – solve real-world problems through a process of trial and error
- provides hands on and practical learning experiences that engage all students, especially the least academically rigorous
- promotes discovering deep, rather than superficial knowledge about a topic and gives students the opportunity and time to delve into a topic instead of always focusing on consuming content and moving on
- makes learning and ongoing assessment the focus, rather than only the end product produced at the end of a unit.
A Project-Based Learning activity poses an open-ended driving question that directs students to inquire, explore, research, collaborate and produce their findings. The production part of PBL has the potential to be celebrated in the culmination of a display to an audience.