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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Project-Based Learning

The quote below is from a post by Andrew Miller called "Project Based Online Learning - Natural Fit and Next Steps"  on the edReformer blog ( ).
7) A Publically Presented Product – Excellent student work should be showcased. Students want praise. In addition, when students know their work is presented, the stakes are higher. The work should be for an authentic audience. With so many ways to present work, the web can be used regularly to share amazing student work. 
That is of course the capstone step.   Before that comes all of the actual learning. And the development work by the instructor.  An ideal PBL project is based on a real-life problem that draws learners into content and helps them to understand that it is relevant to their lives.  It has to be detailed and yet have more than one solution, leading to solid discussion and ultimately to a deeper understanding of the material. A side benefit of multiple solutions is that learners spend time in complex analysis and formulating responses that consider more than one aspect of a situation.  

The drawback to PBL learning is that an instructor must spend a significant amount of time putting the project together.  It's also extraordinarily difficult to design a project that follows the order of information in a textbook.  That can make it difficult to build a project that is not too difficult for learners and that doesn't require them to read and assimilate large amounts of content before beginning the project.  A good PBL has to replace lecture and traditional reading time, not simply add on to the time learners already need to spend on the course content.  

I would love to hear of examples of good PBL projects readers have seen.


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