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Project-based learning (PBL) is something that I have integrated into my classes more over the past few years. I started thinking about alternate ways to have students:
- produce authentic assessments,
- enable them to use something that was interesting and engaging for them, and
- would provide some real-world experiences.
Project-based learning not only provides opportunities for students to collaborate or drive their learning, but it also teaches them to problem solve, and helps to develop skills integral to their future, such as critical thinking and time management.
SUPPORTING ALL STUDENTS
As a foreign language teacher, I need to assess my students in a variety of ways on a regular basis. As we all know, not every person learns the same way or has the same interests. In terms of assessment, some students can learn the material really well, but when a traditional test is given, their information and knowledge somehow disappears.
When this first happened in my classes, I began looking more at ways to assess my students–but to provide assessments which led to more authentic and personalized work. I wanted to provide an equal opportunity for students to achieve success in showing what they know (and can do) with the information that they have learned.
A great way to do this is through project-based learning. There are an increasing number of tools available for use in the classroom that enable students to have a choice and be creative, while also learning valuable technology skills. These tools give students options for showing what it is they have learned and can do with the material, but in a way that is comfortable and relevant and meets their interests and needs.
BENEFITS OF USING DIGITAL TOOLS FOR PBL
The options provide students with a variety of choices for showing their creativity, make learning more meaningful, and they become more engaged in what they are doing.
Many tools are available, both on the web and as apps, that serve to engage, motivate, and inspire students to learn more. The benefit of using web tools for PBL is twofold.
First, students can create something vibrant, engaging, and meaningful because they have put their personal touches on it and, as a result, attach the content material with what they have created. They retain the information better because they have created something for a real world experience.
It also teaches them the vital technology skills that they need moving forward, and gives them skills that can be used in other classes, and for their future. Learning to create multimedia presentations, quickly access resources, and communicate with others helps to empower students, and give them more control in their learning and growth process.
PAPER OR DIGITAL, PBL BENEFITS EVERYONE
There are many options available for project-based learning, whether it be in the traditional paper format style or through technology. Either way, giving students the opportunity to create a project to evidence the learning is beneficial. It not only leads to authentic products and meets the students where they are, but also gives them an opportunity to express themselves more, because it is more personalized and pertinent to their needs and interests. PBL leads to a more student-centered classroom and provides opportunities for students to learn from one another.