PBL: Real Authentic Learning Experiences

A few minutes ago, I finished listening and participating in Dayna Laur’s session Authentic Learning Experiences: A Real World Approach to PBL , part of the online free to attend 2014 Learning Revolution Conference (http://learningrevolution.com/) . Fabulous presentation with some great examples, but more to the point, very convincing.

For those of you new to this, PBL stands for Project-Based Learning. Essentially, it is about providing our students with experiences that are authentic, real-life experiences rather than teacher-engineered, in-classroom experiences that tend to be removed from the actual world out there. Such removed experiences can seem irrelevant to our students. PBL argues that engaging students in studying issues affecting their communities or something relevant to them will bring out their creative minds.

Working at a school where all students have been provided with tablets, I have conducted mobile technology based projects for groups of students, but it was all done inside the school. The idea of 8 weeks – or more – of a project where students are engaged with their local community, seeing how their education is actually relevant to their lives, how it affects them and how knowledge can bring about change – is something I would love to try out.

During the presentation, I asked a question that is perhaps the most obvious – how do we, in the middle of our high-stakes testing and examinations-filled work, particularly towards the end of KS4, actually find time for these? When do we find time for PBL when we need to prepare our students for GCSEs?

Could it be that we’re more scared of letting go, though? There is no doubt in my mind that the PBL approach is the right one. Working on real-life issues, working with real people and involved in producing multiple drafts, peer critique and acting on such critique and improving their work – is strikingly similar to what we as adults do in real life at work. Surely, involving our students in what essentially mirrors real life later is what we are meant to be doing for our students at our schools – preparing them for life and providing them with opportunities to grow to be productive and responsible citizens?

Would you try PBL at your school?

Do read through the Innovation Unit’s Work that Matters: Teacher’s Guide to Project Based Learning with several examples from schools in the UK at:


Many thanks to Dayna again for such a terrific, informative, engaging and encouraging presentation! Check her website at: http://daynalaur.com/

It’s always good to learn!

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