Project Based Learning with iPads

projectKidsBringing learning to life – Bringing Life to learning!

To start with, I think Project-based learning is the future of education. It puts students into real situations where they have to:

  1. Act professionally
  2. be a team player
  3. understand their assigned role
  4. Stick to deadlines as a team
  5. Problem solve
  6. Project manage
  7. Communicate ideas

… I could go on for a while here!

Photo by USdagov

These are the skills the world,  employers, charities and universities are crying out for, far more than any specific content schools might have traditionally taught. The world is changing too quickly to be concerned with static content and these general skills that enhance one’s ability to learn new things quickly will be key to success in this century.

Fortunately, I don’t have to cover PBL in much detail as there are a number of sites and Youtube channels that do it brilliantly, especially EDUTOPIA and BIE.

Here’s Edutopia’s introduction:

Just one Important distinction!

Project-based learning is not ‘doing projects’. PBL is student-driven and specifically open to interpretation to ensure students learn through carrying out a project and not doing a project pre-designed by the teacher. They are driven to answer a ‘big’ question and carry out their inquiry and design in teams. They are also under pressure to present their results to a third party of some kind. The students decide on how to achieve the goals and are not carrying out teacher-designed tasks.

PBL APPS (version 1)

Here’s my quick representation of PBL by iPad App. The process is not necessary linear but the apps might help you start various stages and help students and teachers understand the task at hand.

i4S PBL Apps

12 thoughts on “Project Based Learning with iPads

  1. Thank you for the above diagram. I am new to using PBL this year and have a couple ongoing at the moment. One of the issues I am experiencing is that students are interested in completion rather than quality and enjoying the process. They have a choice for the final task of what they are going to create, as they have never done this before they seem to just want to do the easiest option e.g. a poster at the most basic level. This is for secondary girls school ages 13-15. Any suggestions. Would the task of setting the marking criteria as a class help?

    1. Thanks for you comment. You might be missing some key ingredients:
      1. Have them do team presentations or videos docks/ads rather than posters. Each team member should show they have fulfilled their role.
      2. Have a third party audience for the final presentation. To start with organise a colleague to act as judge. True outsiders have the biggest impact as they’re from the ‘real-world’
      3. Make sure your driving question is ‘big’ enough. I’ve planned a fabric technology project with the opening question: What part can New Zealand play in the industry of China’s doing all the sewing? This has a very wide scope and starts the research into what things are going on in NZ. We are lining up a designer to critique their final products.
      4. Remember that the team roles are key to keeping each student on task to. This is also one of the key skills that’s being learnt. I challenge students to show their evidence they are fulfilling their role.

      I hope some of that helps.

    2. Thanks for your comment. I think this issue of intrinsic motivation is key to knowing you’re getting PBL right. What was your driving question and is it challenging enough? All the way through I will demand that smaller questions must be answered and accounted for to help add depth. If they are to produce posters (I’m moving away from posters and demanding team presentation or video doco/ad) an essential element is a third party audience. Team blogs mean that comments can be added trough tout and an ‘outsider’ to critique the presentations is key. To start with use a colleague who’s happy to come in as ‘judge’ during a presentation, each student should be showing off they have fulfilled their team role too. Does that help?

  2. Thanks for the feedback. For year 10 we have used the driving question: How are drugs destroying our society? I feel this focuses on the negative a little more than I’d like, but were part way through it so will see it through. For our year 9’s our driving question is How can we encourage Healthy decision making with regards to coonsuming drugs and alcohol.

    When you say give roles to students, do you get them to sort roles at the beginning of the project or once they have done the research? And can you give me examples of what roles you generally use.

    Also much of what I have read and heard about PBL’s is that I should leave it open in terms of what they create at the end. Is that what you would recommend?

    Feedback is really appreciated. :)

  3. I love the Apps chart! I use Wonderlist personally but never thought of it in the classroom! Our school is launching PBL this year, and I appreciate the information greatly. :)

    Mrs. Wooler–so far, we have done one PBL unit and written the 2nd to start in 2 weeks. For our very first, we were told not to give them choice in their final product since it was brand new to us and to the students. Moving forward, though, I’m told it’s good to leave it somewhat open-ended. My thing is that a poster just won’t be a choice. Maybe the rubric could include some choices but that must involve technology of some sort?

    I’ve also heard from our PBL coaches that having a 3rd party involved in your Entry Event/Document and making the project authentic can increase the students’ motivation. If they’re just doing it for me, they don’t really care that much or put forth as much effort to produce high quality work. If someone else that’s maybe an “expert” in the field can judge or choose the best team’s product in the end, I think it would really drive them to work hard. I don’t know what your final products/tasks are, but can each team be creating a video or some kind of media to present to a younger grade to express the importance of staying drug-free, or maybe the best final presentation could be posted on the school’s website or something along these lines?

    Just my 2 cents, since I’m brand new to this!

    It sounds like a good topic that relates well to real life!

    -Mrs. C.
    Teach On.

  4. There are many forms of project based learning. You should state in your article that your model (mentioned at the end) is just one interpretation of project based learning.

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