The Learning Renaissance

Why Project-Based Learning (PBL)?


One particularly difficult task for schools to maintain during the Covid 19 pandemic has been learning continuity. Part of this difficulty is self-imposed by secondary schools tending to structure learning and teaching and lessons in a slice and dice format of discrete lessons.

As well as being disruptive of student learning by requiring the lesson bell to separate active learning sessions into short sessions, it also prevents students developing a unitary approach to effective learning, because each subject is stressing a singular and specific approach to the discipline of their subject, be it science or languages or history or mathematics. For the student learning is characterised by discontinuity rather than being undertaken under a unifying structure and systematic approaches.

During the crisis, your school has been trying to maintain not a single curriculum offering, but as many as ten constituent subject curriculums, both expensively and ineffectively.

As both Singapore and Finland, the most consistently effective education systems internationally (as identified by the PISA tables of the OECD)  have concluded, the effective education of the future will demote subject-based learning and develop project-based learning in which students are asked to develop and deploy not just subject knowledge but a wide range of relevant skills for life in the 21st century.

These skills include the ability to absorb, select, interrogate and synthesise information in collaborative ways to problem solve and present engaging and coherent solutions.

Although Singapore and Finland are moving to project-based learning at a whole system level, individual schools can explore PBL at a school-based level.

The question then becomes ‘How do we get from the current state to PBL?’

Our friends and colleagues at Edutopia have generated a number of articles and videos addressing how to set up and sustain a project-based learning experiment in your school:

Hedreich Nichols explores How to set up for collaboration in online PBL units

Glenn Whitman and Ian Kelleher on Your checklist for virtual PBL

Finally, Michael MacDowell focuses on Using PBL to encourage interdisciplinary work

All these explorations can be accessed here: Edutopia looks at Project Based Learning (PBL)


About educationalist04

I'm convinced we can, as a species, do much better than this if we set our minds to being much more positive and productive towards our fellow humans. The solution is learning - creating independent and autonomous learners who can problem solve, innovate and create a better more equitable and sustainable world. My books, Future Proof Your School and Re-Examining Success together with this blog, explore how better learning outcomes for all can be achieved.

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