Light Offerings

Value of Project Based Learning in Digital Age Education

Posted by jturner56 on November 23, 2015

These past weeks I have been working with Middle School students on English Projects to do with Personal Identity and Graphic Novel depictions. Adobe Illustrator has been used to develop personal logos for mugs or Graphic Novel panels.

As identified by Cathie Norris in a  recent THE Journal article – Blended Learning Is the Future of K-12 Educational Technology – “Blended learning is any time a student learns at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home and at least in part through online delivery with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace.” The projects are a good example of blending personal interest and acumen with subject-based curriculum understanding and learning. Students control  time and choice within project demands.

As I considered the mid-project feedback, I found the following learning characteristics defined success and areas to consider:

  • Good Time Management (working to deadlines)
  • Attention to detail (and requirements)
  • Addressing and Learning from mistakes
  • Not leaving to the last day (things will go wrong)
  • Questioning and Reflection

As I explained to the students, I don’t have to do many tests in my work, but if I came up short in meeting project requirements, I would know about it.

What also struck me was that through such projects we were educating students to learn to

  • work against distraction
  • work against superficiality
  • work against fixed mentalities
  • work against procrastination
  • work against isolated thinking

Evidence of this ranged from the student who professed “I didn’t learn as must I needed to get the Grade I need” to those who had shown good progress until the time just dried up. Projects provided a window into the learning processes being applied.

Not that I’m against testing. In fact, some projects include time measurable create segments that mirror having to respond in short, intense time periods. This helps students identify efficiency strengths and weaknesses, as well as skill shortcomings. Testing can always help the educational objectives if of value for the process (but not as a fallback for externalised political reasons or to justify status quo thinking.

In the Digital Age we should be using Projects to build depth of process understanding; incorporating appropriate milestone feedback, aligned to literacy and conceptual development frameworks.



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