Project Based Learning in the Classroom

With the multitudes of technology available, project based learning offers a wide variety of options for teachers and students to use when generating and testing hypotheses. “Technology plays a vital role in generating and testing hypotheses because new developments in probeware and interactive applets allow students to spend more time interpreting data than gathering the data” (Pitler, Hubbell & Kuhn, 2012, pp 205). Project based learning puts the learning in the students hands and gives them the control to demonstrate their knowledge in their own way. “Project-Based Learning offers many advantages and challenges when implemented in the classroom. However, there are strategies to successfully meet these challenges. Some of the advantages in PBL learning include but are not limited to: Increased motivation, problem-solving ability, media research skills, collaboration, resource management skills” (Orey, 2001).

There are two vastly different examples of constructivist learning experiences that I feel are extremely valuable to students. The first fits in the category of generating and testing hypotheses to an extent. It is an old game for the X-Box but its value is immeasurable. The premise is of an orphan boy in a fictional nation who realizes his dream of becoming a hero.  Players go through the game at the boy and each decision the player makes changes the way the citizens of the nation perceive him and also change his appearance to mirror the good or evil deeds he has done. Each choice has consequence and the player must live with the consequence. The player can go through the entire game making only a couple bad choices, but the marks of choices remain. There are a few online games that resemble Fable, however this is the best there is of this type. This is a great real world example of constructionist learning theory. Players learn that in the game, as in life, with every choice comes a consequence whether it be negative or positive. In the game the consequences are visual as in positive choices are  depicted as a halo, shaft of sparkling light, butterflies, etc. Negative choices are depicted as red haze, draws flies, red eyes, grows horns etc. There are other real life consequences of choices such as over eating, drinking too much alcohol, among other things. Students are creating their own learning as they play the game and realize that it mirrors life in that their choices all have consequences and once they are make they must live with them.

The second example is Thinglink/Tackk app smash. “ThingLink is an interactive media platform that empowers publishers, educators, brands, and bloggers to create more engaging content by adding rich media links to photos and videos” (Thinglink, 2016).Thinglink can be used to create interactive presentations using pictures, maps, posters, and catalogs. A single photo can tell a story. Students are given a topic or problem to research and guidelines to follow and they are left to their own creativity to demonstrate what they have learned. Tackk in the Classroom is a great tool as it is a social creation and collaboration tool. Tackk can be used as a blog, a school project or even a blank canvas to be used for teachers and or students to present information.  It is a cross between Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, allowing for curating, creation, collaboration, and communication. Conversations can be held between groups about presentations and for collaboration.The site connects users on a creative level, allowing for discussions on user-created content. The great thing about these apps is the student can take pictures, YouTube Videos, or any other web application and embed it into the Thinglink. Attached below is a link to a particularly creative project on Mary Todd Lincoln by a second grade student.  https://www.thinglink.com/scene/496781709627359233

Constructivist learning experience and project based learning are the best ways for students to construct their own learning. There are many ways to accomplish this whether it be through simulation, web quests, and others. The important thing is the learning is active and the students are the facilitators of their learning.

 

Orey, M. (Ed.). (2001). Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved

from  http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Main_Page

Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., & Kuhn, M. (2012). Using technology with classroom instruction that

 works (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD

Thinglink  https://www.thinglink.com/

 

 

3 Comments

  1. Jennifer Terrell says:

    Angela,

    I love the comparison between life and the video game. As a gamer myself, I have always made a connection between school and video games. I try to incorporate video games into lessons and examples. This helps students that game to make more connections to the material. I am also going to explore Thinglink more. I can see how it can be a great tool for project-based learning.

    Jennifer Terrell

    1. Angela Sorley says:

      Jennifer,
      My son is a big gamer and when he was growing up I let him watch or play just about anything as long as I knew what it was about and could discuss real versus movie magic versus fantasy. I found Fable very intriguing and explained the premise to me. I sat and watched him play occasionally. Parents would ask me how I could let him play the game (he was in the fourth grade at the time). I would explain why I found the game valuable. One time for fun, my son created a new character and went through almost the entire game making bad choices. His appearance was very scary. Then he decided to try making good choices in the middle. He came to two major conclusions after that experience. First, once you have made poor choices good choices are boring and very hard to make. Second, no matter how many good choices he made he could not completely erase the effects of the poor choices. It was a very valuable lesson for him.

  2. Adam Stuper says:

    Angela-

    I love the idea of using a video game in teaching about choices and consequences. I am sure we all remember playing the Oregon Trail game as a kid that revolves around similar concepts. Games like Assassin’s Creed fall in that same vein as well, whereas games like DomiNations, an app, allow students to start as an ancient civilization and improve farms, hunt for animals, and advance your civilization through history. It would only benefit our students to develop more simulations such as these that can teach skills and concepts.

    Adam