What you don’t know; Project-Based Learning.

Nitin Sharma
Nitin Sharma
12 Aug, 21 · 6 min read
What you don’t know; Project-Based Learning.
Education is considered important in so many ways for the evolution & growth of self, family, society, nation, and mankind. But do we question enough on what the purpose of education is, for our children and how is it being achieved? Why is education delivered the way it is? Is it relevant in the times we are living in? Are there any other approaches?

The biggest question today is not about ‘what are we teaching’ but it is ‘how are we teaching’?

Let me throw some light on one such alternative approach, ‘Project-Based Learning’.


What is Project-Based Learning?

Project-Based Learning, PBL, is a process of teaching in which kids are engaged in real life and personally meaningful projects. It is an active approach to education where kids are learning by doing rather than just passively receiving and processing information.

Kids work on a project that may extend over a period of time — from a week to months — that engages them in asking questions, experimenting, building prototypes, finding answers & solving real-life problems. In the process, they explore and demonstrate knowledge and skills.

As a result, students develop skills like critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, initiative, perseverance, and other social-emotional skills required to succeed in career and life.

An example of Project-based Learning could be where kids are given a problem that — in an overcrowded city they have come with a design for a small house that can be built within a budget and provides a good and healthy living.

During the process, kids will try to understand the user and their needs like who is going to live in the house, what are their preferences, how do they live, what kind of activities do they do for the most part of the day, how do they prefer to relax, etc. Once they have thoroughly empathized with the user and defined their needs. They move on to brainstorming the solution. While brainstorming, they think creatively. critically and collaboratively about the possible features of the house while researching other things like its location, climatic conditions, housing rules, materials, cost, etc.

Once they, as a team, have a consensus on a solution they start using design, engineering, and technology tools to build the prototype. While doing this they may also have to learn new tools like 3D printing, Arduino, sensors, hardware tools, etc which will help them to build good prototypes.

Then they explain their solution through the prototype to their audience or client and receive feedback.

Check this video to understand more about the process kids go through while designing a house for their clients.
The difference in PBL and Traditional way of Learning

PBL and traditional learning differ in almost all aspects i.e. the why, what, where, when, who and how of education. Traditional learning focuses on knowledge/information; categorised in the form of subjects; delivered by people who are assumed experts of that subject and are called the teachers; received & stored in the brains of children, with an expiry of one year; with this transaction taking place in a well organised, supposed to be quiet, with no room for creativity, called the classroom; tested how well the information is downloaded on a piece of paper in a limited time. All this is repeated twelve times, which no one knows why. Sometimes, there may be a project being assigned to apply the knowledge.

PBL on the other hand focuses on engaging children in creating a product or a solution; by identifying, learning, and applying knowledge & skills; in the presence of a guide called a mentor, who closely observes and assesses the children.
Traditional Learning vs PBL
Traditional Learning vs PBL
How doing a project and project-based learning are different

Many people confuse between PBL and simply doing a project. The main difference is in the process which changes the entire experience. The process to focus on learning than just the project. To give further clarity let me give a simple example.

This evening a few guests are coming to your place, what will you serve them. If they are your regular visiting neighbour, you may just simply make tea and but if they are some special guest you may think of something special keeping in mind who they are, what is the occasion, what is the weather today, what time they will come. So here, making tea is a “doing a project” and thinking a complete snack is “project-based learning”
Doing a Project vs Project-Based Learning
Doing a Project vs Project-Based Learning
Schools & other education settings are widely adopting project-based learning methodology with a variety of practices but it can be easily observed if it is actually PBL. “Making a Tea” is a short project done after covering the content of a lesson or a unit while the “Making a Snacking Meal” project is a unit in itself that works as a vehicle to teach important knowledge and skills kids need to learn.

How can you evaluate if the process being followed is actually PBL? Here are 7 key essential elements of a Gold Standard PBL project and teaching process
Essential Elements of Designing & Teaching a Project
Essential Elements of Designing & Teaching a Project
Why do we need Project-Based Learning?

Is it worth putting so much effort to change the entire approach to learning and will it really benefit kids?

Have a look at the world around you, how it works? As the nature of jobs is changing and automation is taking over, more & more jobs are becoming project-based. Be it sales, marketing, production, recruitment, training, logistics, QA; pretty much all professions include doing projects; big or small. As more & more industries realise the need of being dynamic and innovative, the nature of jobs will also change. And if you have read through this blog till here, I am sure your job is also based on doing different projects. But I am also sure that you have not been taught or educated through the PBL approach.

Think of the kind of challenges you faced or you think someone who has just started with a job will face and what could be done to avoid these challenges. Probably, if you would have gone through a process of learning where the focus was on building basic skills like adaptability, teamwork, empathy, creative confidence, etc. then just on information and use of tools, your experience would have been different and more fulfilling. If you would have been involved in doing projects during your school or college, you might have been a very different person today.

Changes in society must be reflected in the teaching methodologies. This is why PBL is required for all 21st-century kids to make sure they are ready for the world they are about to enter and have all the skills required to succeed by contributing to the world and living a fulfilling life. Many case studies show that when kids are involved in learning through projects,
  • They are much more engaged.
  • They get to explore different interests and careers.
  • They find learning more purposeful.
  • They even pursue mastery in a particular domain.
And this doesn’t stop here, teachers also enjoy this approach of teaching and end up being more involved.

However, all this sounds very interesting but it is not easy and requires a revolution to make this paradigm shift in the mindset of people involved in education. But this revolution has to start with the end-users of education i.e. kids and their parents.
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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur, adipisicing elit. Vero quae similique laboriosam pariatur cupiditate et temporibus ex maxime, ullam esse consectetur sint possimus repudiandae mollitia sit reprehenderit aspernatur explicabo, placeat sunt autem fugit! Explicabo aperiam itaque sunt sapiente sequi nihil vero facere possimus, in iure saepe earum accusantium tenetur. Corporis fugit libero voluptatibus ipsa voluptatum aspernatur laborum reiciendis? Tempora esse expedita commodi quaerat quibusdam laudantium ratione quod illo nostrum recusandae ut molestias reprehenderit, ab sunt provident nesciunt unde! Dolorem eius accusamus earum veniam ex corporis voluptatibus provident cumque blanditiis facilis quos facere sint fugit, alias rem eos temporibus hic mollitia?
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Nitin Sharma
Written by
Nitin Sharma
Digital Product Designer @Synchron. www.ferdicildiz.com

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