At Maker Learning Network (MLN), project-based learning is at the core of what we do. This revolutionary model helps students (learners) gain the valuable collaborative, academic and problem-solving skills our global economy will demand from them. Through the PBL method, learners tackle deeply engaging projects about real-world issues that require critical thought, inquiry, and synthesis. These projects culminate in regular Presentations of Learning (POLs) to their peers, facilitators, community members and parents.
The PBL model requires learners to research, collaborate, and carefully weigh information and evidence in a nuanced problem-solving environment. It teaches learners to accept feedback, create solutions, and present their findings in a high-performance context, preparing them for the rigors of the 21st-century economy and the challenges of a global world. It is, in a word, transformative.
According to the Buck Institute for Education, PBL achieves the following:
PBL makes school more engaging for students. Today’s students, more than ever, often find school to be boring and meaningless. In PBL, students are active, not passive. A project engages their hearts and minds and provides real-world relevance for learning.
PBL improves learning. After completing a project, students understand content more deeply, remember what they learn, and retain it longer than is often the case with traditional instruction. Because of this, students who gain content knowledge with PBL are better able to apply their knowledge and skills to new situations.
PBL builds success skills for college, career, and life. In the 21st-century workplace and in college, success requires more than basic knowledge and skills. In a project, students learn how to take initiative and responsibility, build their confidence, solve problems, work in teams, communicate ideas, and manage themselves more effectively.
PBL helps address standards. The Common Core and other present-day standards emphasize real-world application of knowledge and skills and the development of success skills, such as critical thinking/problem-solving, collaboration, communication in a variety of media, and speaking and presentation skills. PBL is an effective way to meet these goals.
PBL provides opportunities for students to use technology. Students are familiar with and enjoy using a variety of tech tools that are a perfect fit with PBL. With technology, teachers and students can find resources and information, create products, collaborate effectively, and connect with experts, partners, and audiences around the world.
PBL makes teaching more enjoyable and rewarding. Projects allow teachers to work closely with active, engaged students doing high-quality, meaningful work and, in many cases, to rediscover the joy of learning alongside their students.
PBL connects students and schools with communities and the real world. Projects provide students with empowering opportunities to make a difference, by solving real problems and addressing real issues. Students learn how to interact with adults and organizations, are exposed to workplaces, and develop career interests. Parents and community members can be involved in projects.