A post considering project and challenge based learning and their meaning in the context of technology integration.
But first, an epiphany…
Writing a post on project and challenge based learning experiences gives me the opportunity to share some thoughts on how important collaborative, self-directed learning is.
Another happy little outcome is that, without focusing on the all-important-topic of ICT integration, tech is slathered all over effective implementation of both. All of the discussion about seamless integration has been rendered moot in this context.
So, having shared this little insight (though really, a rather important realization for me) we can now turn to the matter at hand; learning that matters, right now, for the students.
Project Based vs. Challenge Based: A Look at The Terms
One definition that Google produced for me was:
…we define Project Based Learning as:
a systematic teaching method that engages students in learning essential knowledge and life-enhancing skills through an extended, student-influenced inquiry process structured around complex, authentic questions and carefully designed products and tasks.
Contrast this with:
Challenge-based learning (CBL) is a pedagogic approach for K12 education pioneered by education staff at Apple, Inc. that has its roots in problem-based learning and the work of John Dewey. The approach focuses on increasing student engagement. Unlike problem-based learning, CBL is a collaborative learning experience in which teachers and students work together to learn about compelling issues, propose solutions to real problems, and take action. The approach asks students to reflect on their learning and the impact of their actions, and publish their solutions to a worldwide audience.
So then, if the one (CBL) is derivative of the other (PBL) with the important distinction of identifying solutions in order to take action, then really this, from my perspective means two things:
- It seems tailor made for the International Baccalaureate’s Primary Years Programme, in which Taking Action is the ideal outcome of the units, and;
- I can focus on PBL examples in order to further clarify essential elements of both aproaches.
Project Based Learning
Embracing both, or either, however, demands a large shift on the part of the teacher in terms of really believing in the students taking ownership of their own learning.
Connie Weber teaches at an independent school in Ann Arbor, Michigan
“For the teacher, there’s this giant letting go. Now, that requires some effort. I can see it in my mind — it’s me walking away, turning my back, going somewhere else, not allowing myself to hover. It’s me communicating, ‘I’m at your service,’ and, ‘May the force be with you.’ It’s me utterly and totally handing over the reins, come what may. The project is theirs.”
On a personal note, I have found the misconceived perceptions of other teachers to be another stumbling block when implementing PBL in a school unaccustomed to it. Sharing rationale, benefits and demonstrated successes are effective means of addressing this issue.
So, in summation, the time for change is long overdue. It is not just because of the technology but mores because of it and its imp at on the world children are living in. To quote author, Alvin Toffler, in an interview about the institution of education:
Teachers are wonderful, and there are hundreds of thousands of them who are creative and terrific, but they are operating in a system that is completely out of time. It is a system designed to produce industrial workers.
The industrial revolution is over folks.