So, what is project based learning? The textbook definition provided by the Buck Institute for Education in the "Project Based Learning Handbook" described standards focused project based learning with the quote below:
A systematic teaching method that engages students in learning knowledge and skills through an extended inquiry process structured around complex, authentic questions and carefully designed products and tasks.In my opinion it's a flexible term that boils down to scaffolding a lesson so that learners construct their own solutions rather than being told what the solution is through formal instruction. In project based learning students use a variety of resources such as the internet and books or even better, resources used to perform their jobs such as company intranets, software, job aids, manuals, and wikis to construct their own solutions to the problem they are being asked to solve. Project based learning helps learners to gain a deeper understanding of the instructional objectives by engaging them in an interactive lesson requiring them to perform the objectives in a safe environment.
Project based learning's focus on the learner constructing their own solutions using available resources is what makes it so ideal for the corporate world. In the workplace, employees don't have their training facilitator there to give a lecture any time they come across a problem they don't know how to solve so it is important that employees are trained to use available resources to solve the problem on their own. Project based learning achieves what a lecture cannot by providing the opportunity for the learner to practice using the necessary resources so that when they do come across a problem they are prepared to solve it on their own.
By now, I am sure you are well aware of what project based learning is so let's take a look at an example. Hopefully sharing my example will inspire readers to describe or post a link to their examples as a comment to this post. For my recent instructional design class I designed a project based lesson called "Selling Sleep Disorder Relief" which required participants to research a sleep disorder then create a presentation of how to make a sales presentation to a customer with the sleep disorder. By designing a project based lesson for this topic participants were not only better able to retain the information but they were also required to practice applying this information in a realistic "fail safe" situation. Hopefully this example will help others understand what project based learning is and hopefully spur some ideas or best practices for using it in the corporate world. Do you have any examples or insight you are willing to share? I am by no means an expert and would love to hear what others have to say about project based learning in the corporate world. Please continue the conversation by posting a comment with examples or just your thoughts on project based learning.
- Buck Institute for Education. (2003) Project Based Learning: A guide to standards focused project based learning. Novato, CA: Buck Institute for Education.