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What is Project Based Learning in the Classroom?

Kyla Ball

In this short blog we look at what makes up project-based learning or PBL, what makes it so effective in the classroom, and then at some recent project-based learning experiences presented using ThingLink.

What is meant by Project Based Learning?

Project Based Learning (PBL) is an approach to pedagogy that focuses on teaching and learning through engaging, student-centered projects. PBL can help learners develop skills like problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. In a project-based learning environment, teachers act as facilitators who guide students through their projects with careful feedback and support.

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The benefits of Project Based Learning

At both elementary school and high school level, project based learning has been found to be an effective teaching method to engage students in their studies while helping them learn valuable skills for use both inside and outside the classroom. Some of these benefits include:

Increased student engagement

By basing student learning on real-world problems, they are more likely to remain engaged and interested in their studies and to develop a deeper understanding of the subject matter. This helps create an environment where learning is fun and exciting. It is often left to individual student choice how to present their final product or project findings, allowing for more of a sense of agency and personalisation – and for the student voice to be heard more clearly.

Improved academic performance

Studies have shown that students who engage in PBL have higher test scores at all grade levels than those who don’t participate in these sorts of active learning activities. This is most likely due to the fact that PBL encourages deeper learning and thinking about topics – which in turn helps improve students’ overall content knowledge, understanding and knowledge retention of the material being taught.

Enhanced problem-solving skills

Working on projects can help students develop better problem-solving skills, as they learn how to think critically about complex issues involved in the subject area and come up with creative solutions. Note: the separate approach of problem-based learning (also confusingly abbreviated to PBL!) refers to a method where students tackle a specific and defined, often complex question or problem, rather than a wider and usually multi-disciplinary challenges involved in project-based learning.)

Heightened collaboration and communication

As with most group learning activities, working together using a project-based approach encourages collaboration between classmates as well as communication with teachers – all of which can help build strong relationships within the classroom community.

How can students present their Project Based Learning?

One of the key components of PBL is to visualize, demonstrate or display the findings at the end of the project. Increasingly, educators and students have used interactive content platform ThingLink as a tool to showcase their work. This is mainly because of the flexibility of the platform, which allows for images, 360 images, videos and 3d objects to be augmented with additional information in a huge variety of formats. Students can create virtual tours, virtual exhibitions and even create artefacts with the look and feel a landing page or website. Take a look through these example case studies of project-based learning and presentation below.

  • An award-winning project where school students from across Hungary collaborated to create a joint exhibition based on their responses, in a huge variety of media, to a character in a famous Hungarian epic poem. Material included 360 images, videos, games, quizzes and other media. Explore the media at the interactive image below!
  • Teach for America – a fellowship of High School students created an artefact to present their research into the potential futures of education in a post-pandemic world. This is a very interesting approach as it demands that the viewer takes an active role by listening to the testimonies and reading the content and then making a decision about where they think each case sits on a numbered scale. They can then compare that to the position chosen by the fellows.
  • HerStory – another example of a virtual exhibition showcasing individual research in an interactive way. Although this was created by university students, this is a template that could easily be recreated by high school students for their projects.

Get started with Project-Based Learning

Introducing a PBL project is a great way for teachers to engage their students while teaching them valuable skills and their real-world applications such as problem solving, critical thinking, teamwork, communication and project management. By passing this hands-on learning process over to their young learners, teachers can help foster a creative environment where learning is enjoyable for all involved while helping their students become better prepared for success both at school and in the wider world.

Meet a product expert

If you’d like to learn more about what ThingLink can offer to your school, you can schedule an online meeting with one of our product experts below.

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