Project Based Learning, so hot right now. Online PBL? Even hotter.
Thankfully, this is not the approach taken by presenter Andrew Miller as he described how he engages students in his online PBL environment. Mr. Miller shared a number of best practices:
- Keep projects not just relevant but, relevant right now
- Tie projects to standards and cluster standards for richer experiences
- Projects can evolve over time and students still learn when one flops
- Keep projects valuable by recognizing the effect that other assessments have. Particularly, a summative assessment immediately following a project devalues that project but ongoing formative assessment is important.
Mr. Miller also shared a host of tools that he uses, from moodle, edmodo, and google apps for collaboration, to voicethread and lulu.com for creation of artifacts.
The part that I appreciated most about Mr. Miller’s talk, however, was the emphasis upon relationships. He explained that PBL works because it helps foster positive human relationships through collaboration. School is no longer done to students but with them. He did stress that while there is choice and great opportunity to build upon assets, he, as teacher, still plays a major role in guiding that choice and ensuring that standards are met. I also appreciated his acknowledgement that PBL is not a silver bullet. Just like with everything else, these methods work sometimes, but not always. Project based learning is just part of the teachers tool kit, a big part, but still just a part.
Thank you, Mr. Miller for reaffirming that we need a wide range of skills, to be smart about our tools, and, above all else, that relationships matter.