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f you want to make your learning or training engaging and relevant, a traditional ‘one-fits-all’ model won’t help. 

But what will? 

Project-based learning! And trust us, it is more common than you think.

Within the modern education landscape, it emerges as a transformative approach. It links learning to real-world scenarios, focuses on key knowledge, and allows deeper understanding. 

That’s why it is applied in schools, academies, business settings, and leadership programs. Yet, it has its principles and rules. 

Read on to explore this concept, its key benefits, project-based examples and ideas, and ways to use it online.

What is Project-Based Learning?

Let’s start with a project-based learning definition and how it is different from traditional learning.

Project-based learning is a method by which students gain knowledge and skills during their active involvement in meaningful projects that apply to the real world.

Usually, a project spans from a week to a half year. During this time, students address an issue or real-world problem and develop a solution with the knowledge they get. 

The result of such a work is a product or presentation that shows how deeply they understand the issue and how they apply the knowledge.

Note. For students in schools, the result of PBL learning can be a mural or presentation, while for students in business or tech boot camps, it can be a web app, site, product, or even a business launch.

For instance, Futur Academy builds the whole business beta program around this approach.

Project-based learning vs traditional learning

How does project-based learning differ from traditional learning methods?

Project-based learning vs traditional learning
Traditional learning is rather academic, while project-based learning focuses on real-world problems supporting interdisciplinary knowledge and putting student inquiry in the center.

Why is Project-Based Learning Important?

Project-based learning is important as it offers a transformative approach to learning with increased student engagement and practical learning outcomes. 

💡Subject to the research, project-based learning has a positive effect on critical thinking development and adds to creative thinking, reflective thinking, communication, and cooperation skills.

But why this approach is so transformative? 

It focuses on projects, uses real-world questions to prepare students for future challenges, and teaches 21st-century skills. The latter refer to: 

  • Personal or social responsibility;
  • Design thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving skills;
  • Creativity and decision-making;
  • Ability to look at things from different perspectives;
  • Use of technology and flexibility.

In terms of classroom engagement, project-based learning brings more freedom and does not kill the creativity affected by routine activities and the student’s passive role under the traditional learning approach.

Read more: How to Boost Online Classroom Engagement?

Key Characteristics of Project-Based Learning

Interestingly, project-based learning is the approach that is widely used not only in schools, but in academies, business organizations, and training centers. Yet, it can have different names and be integrated into various programs. It may be a school project, coding bootcamp, or training simulation at work.

In many cases, they follow the principle of “learning by doing”, presented by John Dewey, whom some consider a father of project-based learning. 

Your learning can be considered project-based if it includes the particular characteristics:

  • Open-ended issues. The project usually aims to answer a big question, a student can offer a solution based on the research.
  • Connection to classroom knowledge. Project-based learning requires students to use the knowledge they acquire in the classroom and understand how it can help them with the project.
  • Students create solutions based on inquiry. Inquiries encourage interest, add to understanding, and allow for asking the right questions with the help of instructors.
  • Student-centered learning. It puts the solutions and decisions of the students into the center.
  • Clear and authentic assessment criteria. Alongside the presentation, teachers evaluate problems, research processes, tools, and outcomes, and bring other peers to evaluation.

As a result, from posing a question and making an inquiry to reflection and evaluation, the students take a journey where they explore new concepts, get a deep understanding, and acquire the necessary skills to realize the project.

Benefits of Project-Based Learning

benefits of project-based learning

Considering the importance and key characteristics, we can identify key advantages that project-based learning brings to students and teachers:

  • Enhanced Critical Thinking Skills: This approach significantly relies on students’ analysis, evaluation, and creation, which are essential for future academic, life, and career success. 
  • Improved Collaboration Skills: When students work on research projects, they learn how to collaborate, share responsibilities, and value diverse perspectives. 
  • Real-World Application of Knowledge: As students aim to solve real-world problems, students see the relevance of their learning, making programs more meaningful and applicable. 
  • Increased Student Motivation: Such projects boost student interest and motivation, leading to a more enthusiastic and invested learning experience. 
  • Promotes life learning: Project-based learning encourages students to find solutions to complex issues and step out of the school or organization setting. It enhances their ability to be active, think creatively, and solve problems effectively. 

Read more: 10 Benefits of Collaborative Learning

Top 10 Project-Based Learning Examples 

As the project-based learning concept is crucial for many organizations, instructors have numeous forms to resort to. 

There are some universal project ideas that can be used in different settings, like role-playing scenarios, while others should be changed significantly for business settings.

In this section, we are to show some effective project-based learning examples for young learners, students, and even employees.

Example #1. Developing the Website

There, the project-based learning goal is to answer an issue with the creation of a website. It may be for a community issue, a product, or an interesting initiative. For instance, with it, students can raise awareness about recycling, organize an event, or address public health issues. 

What skills and knowledge will they learn? There is a significant focus on development skills, like basic HTML, content creation, creativity, and design thinking and principles. 

What are alternative project-based learning ideas for businesses and academies? For a development bootcamp, you can turn it into web app design; for academies, students can create an e-portfolio creation; for employee training, it can be an internal corporate culture page. 

Example #2. Creating a Video Piece for PSA or Raising Awareness

Another case of using project learning may be creating a video piece on a public issue, change, or topic. It may resort to a health issue, new policy, or social stereotypes. Such an activity will require students to do polls, research the issue, script, and film the video. 

How will it contribute? Well, it will certainly foster creativity and media literacy and develop scriptwriting skills. Thus, such a task can be a great fit for arts, media, or technology curriculums. 

What are project-based learning ideas that can be used for business training and academies? Within corporate training, trainers may ask for a video promoting corporate culture or a training piece for new employees. In the case of film courses, the PBL example may be an ad for the product or a documentary on a certain issue.

Example#3. Answering Events or Shifts with a Report

Within this project, students will have to analyze and respond to current events, such as changes in prices, new policies, or cultural shifts. The students will need to gather data, evaluate the impact of events, and create reports or presentations. 

What will they learn? There will be a significant focus on data analysis and skills related to problem-solving, critical thinking, and decision-making. Also, such a project will foster civic engagement and improve students’ knowledge of social studies and economics.

What are similar project-based learning ideas for academics? In academies, a similar project will relate to market analysis; under leadership programs, it can refer to the analysis of the management style change.

Example#4. Making a Community Mural

One more popular project learning example is the creation of a community mural that reflects local culture and answers certain issues. Within such a project, they are likely to collaborate a lot, do planning and sketching, as well as creating the mural.

Learning outcomes and impact on skills: This project will help them improve design thinking, develop artistic expression, teamwork, and communication skills, and add to their understanding of the local community. 

What are alternatives to this project in business settings or academies? In academies, the project may refer to large-scale installations. For a corporate setting, an alternative can be a project on developing a corporate culture or team building.

Example#5. Launching a Donation Event & Volunteering

Next, we’d like to consider donation events and volunteering which are popular events for universities or summer schools. There, students have a task to organize a donation event or create a volunteer project to support a local cause. 

What knowledge do students acquire? They learn how to plan, promote, and execute events and explore the concept of social responsibility. It also adds to community development and project management skills. This project can significantly contribute to students’ organizational and leadership abilities. 

In business settings, this PBL can be adapted to corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Example#6. Recording Your Podcast

What is the way to teach your students some technical and creative skills? Challenge students to produce a podcast related to a specific topic. To succeed, they will need to analyze the issue, prepare information, plan, and script the interview, invite a guest, and do the recording.

What is the impact on students? For students, it can result in learning skills related to content creation and audio production, storytelling, and interviewing. The project can add to the technical and communication abilities of young students.

In employee training, this PBL can be adapted to internal communication projects or expertise-sharing workshops within personal development plans.

Example#7. Going on a Field Trip 

Besides, you can organize a trip for students outside of the educational facility to study another organization, event, or ecosystem and make a presentation.

As students develop questions, analyze the environment and plan activities, it will allow them to develop critical thinking. Moreover, if it is a trip to a certain organization, like a governmental agency students can study via vicarious and experiential types of learning.

What about project learning ideas for business? For employee training, you can organize cross-departmental sessions for employees to learn from their colleagues. In particular, you can run an online tour for sales teams, where the Head of Product shows how the product is developed to help them understand and sell it better.

Example#8. Organizing a Role Playing Game

Besides, an example of project-based learning is a role-playing game or scenario. It can relate to a specific event, a legal trial, or a round of negotiations. 

As a student will represent a certain person, specialist, or expert, they will need to research the role, prepare their position and arguments, and engage in a debate.

What are the benefits of problem-based learning in this regard? It will allow deep learning of a certain issue and improve their public speaking and argumentation skills. It is a way to raise critical thinkers. Depending on the task, it can contribute to the understanding of history, law, and social studies.

What about using similar cases or project-based learning ideas for business? You can organize role-playing for leadership training regarding management or conflict resolution. In academies, you can develop simulation exercises. 

Example#9. Preparing a Business or Elevator Pitch

Lastly, you can integrate the following PBL project: elevator pitch for a startup, business, or product. For this project, they will need to develop business plans, analyze strengths, practice pitching, and persuade peers to support the idea.

What are learning outcomes? Well, the students are likely to develop entrepreneurial skills, learn business planning, and enhance public speaking. Besides, they will know more about economics, PR, and marketing. 

Is there an application for academies or enterprises? Corporate trainers can adopt it for sales training; academies can use it for startup incubator or accelerator programs.

What Are the Challenges of Project-Based Learning?

Teachers can find numerous ways to integrate project-based learning into the curriculum. However, with the numerous benefits the exciting projects allow, such an approach can bring challenges. 

What are the common project-based challenges?

  • Difficulties in implementation;
  • Lack of readiness and preparedness from instructors;
  • Lack of time and resources;
  • Project management issues;
  • Effective assessment tools.

There, the possible solutions will refer to clear learning goals and increased staff collaboration, institutional support and training for instructors; effective planning strategies; and support of formative and summative assessments alongside peer reviews.

How to Get Started With Project-Based Learning?

steps to implement project based learning

So, project-based learning is indeed a powerful method for teachers, instructors, instructional designers, and training providers. It fits not only classrooms but employee training programs and business academies. So where to start? 

First, you should resort to PBL Golden Standard, a research-improved model for teachers by Buck Institute for Education, to know project-based learning key elements and design a project. 

It means you will need to pose a challenging problem and ask students to focus on making an inquiry. Next, you will create an environment to support a student voice, provide room for reflection, offer check-ins, and ask them to showcase the result.

What is a more common framework? Use a standard model for program creation and consider the peculiarities of this teaching method. 

The Steps to Implement PBL in the Classroom

  • Step #1. Begin with the challenge or issue. Do the research and find a problem that is big enough, relevant to your students or community members, is open-ended, and does not offer one solution.
  • Step #2. Create a plan for a project. Based on your analysis of the issue, consider the subject areas, activities, and materials for the students to encounter, and link them to learning outcomes and curriculum. Also, add a separate project-based instruction on the task for students.
  • Step #3. Develop a schedule. Despite that students do the project, you should thoroughly plan the timeline, benchmarks, and deadlines.
  • Step #4. Keep track of what students do and the project’s status. Next, you should help define roles, support their collaboration, offer relevant materials in class, help with assigning responsibilities, and provide guidance.
  • Step #5. Evaluate the result and experience. Next, based on the criteria, define how well students did the project. Evaluate how well they engaged, how they answered the questions, and which skills they developed. At the same time, do not ignore their experience, form discussions for students to reflect and share opinions.
Note. Consider using resources and technology tools for effective project-based learning. What are they? Think of using special project-based lesson plans or different foundations. For online or blended projects, you should consider collaborative learning tools or a learning management system to plan assignments correctly.

How Can LMS Contribute to Online Project-Based Learning?

Implementing project-based learning in a classroom can be tough. But what if you want to use it for your online course or blended learning? It is not easy as well. 

There, you are likely to need a set of tools to collaborate with students, set and manage tasks, and provide content. What are your options? 

  • 1. Set of collaboration, communication, and project management tools. 
  • 2. A learning management system with management and social learning features. 
Read more: How Projector Institute Uses LMS to Provide Courses? 

LMS can be a better option for large projects, especially within schools, academies, or bootcamps. Why? 

It offers an environment similar to the classroom, focusing on the provision of a centralized system for learning provision and management. 

Let’s look at the particular features that can help set an environment for project learning.

  • Collaboration tools: An LMS with such a tool helps an instructor to break students into groups, organize live sessions, and set communication channels to collaborate effectively.
  • Peer and instructor reviews. The LMS allows instructors to set up regular check-ins with groups, gather feedback, and ask other students to review the tasks of peers.
  • Assignment management: Some LMSs simplify the process of managing assignments. For instance, EducateMe provides a Kanban approach and Calendar feature. That way, it is easier to track progress, remind students about the deadlines, and set Q&A sessions.
  • Content provision options: Lastly, most LMS platforms provide decent ways to deliver content for the students and guide them in a project.
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