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Incorporating Technology into Project-Based Learning

As an educator, I have experienced firsthand the magic that comes with incorporating technology into project-based learning.

Technology is a tool that can:

  • deepen a student’s connection to their project topic.
  • showcase student work beyond the walls of the classroom.
  • streamline the feedback and revision process.

In today’s blog post, I’m sharing different ideas for incorporating technology into project-based learning.

What is Project-Based Learning?

Project-based learning is an approach to teaching and learning where students actively explore real-world problems and challenges through projects. 

Rather than a series of one-off projects, project-based learning units usually occur over the course of several days or weeks and result in a summative project that reflects student learning. 

PBL allows students to:

  • Develop and explore questions and problems
  • Conduct their own research
  • Make connections with experts in a specific subject matter
  • Create final products to share with the class or greater community

To read more about project-based learning, check out this recent blog post.

#1: Use technology to increase project authenticity

Authenticity is a core pillar of project-based learning.

According to John Larmer, former editor in chief at PBLWorks, a project can be authentic in four different ways:

  • The project meets a real need in the real world beyond the walls of the classroom.
  • The project has relevance to the student’s life – either through an issue, problem, or topic that is personally connected to the student.
  • The project involves a realistic scenario or simulation, even if it is fictitious.
  • The project consists of real processes, tools, tasks, or standards used in the workplace.

Technology can enhance a student’s connection to the real world, thus increasing a project’s authenticity. For example, a student may choose to:

  • Interview an expert on Zoom to learn more about a particular topic
  • Use a programming tool like Scratch to model a real-life process or scenario
  • Gather research using Newsela or another student-friendly news source
  • Take a virtual field trip with Google Arts & Culture and find high-quality artifacts, stories, and knowledge

By leveraging technology, students are able to connect with their project and topic on a deeper level.

#2: Use technology to display student projects

In the final stage of a PBL unit, students share their project outside the classroom, presenting their work to the public or greater community.

Students can use technology to showcase their work on a larger scale. Students may choose to:

  • Create a social media campaign to spread awareness about a particular topic or mission
  • Build a class website to showcase projects from the entire classroom community
  • Publish a short film on a platform like Vimeo or YouTube
  • Record a podcast episode that discusses their project findings

Technology is able to connect our world and spread ideas at a rapid speed. Students can use this tool as a platform to increase their project’s visibility and impact.

#3: Use technology to assess student work

In project-based learning, assessment is crucial to ensuring that a student creates an authentic, meaningful project that provides real-world value!

In order for students to meet learning goals and standards, the teacher will typically set clear project expectations, steps, and goals for students.

And students meet those expectations, steps, and goals with project deliverables.

Assessment, often called critique and revision, is a key pillar of the PBL model.

While many teachers may opt to give more traditional forms of assessment (i.e. quizzes, essays), I like to recommend experimenting with using a technology tool for both formative and summative assessment.

For example, a teacher may choose to:

  • Ask students to use Explain Everything, a digital whiteboard and presentation tool, to walk through key findings from the research stage (check out this Explain Everything tutorial)
  • Send weekly Google Forms to check in with students on project progress
  • Streamline the assignment submission process with a learning management system or blended learning platform like Google Classroom

Many teachers often experience difficulty assessing project-based learning units. Try incorporating technology to save you time, increase efficiency, and engage with your students!

Thank You!

Thank you for reading this blog post about incorporating technology into project-based learning. What other ways have you used technology in your PBL classroom? Let me know in the comments below! You can also DM me on Instagram @edtechclass or email me at myedtechclassroom@gmail.com.

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pbl, Tech Tips

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