Better Project-Based Learning: 11 Essential Tools
contributed by Katre Laan
The rise of technology used in classrooms has made learning much more interactive.
A decade ago, the emergence of iPads as an essential project-based learning tool. Today, there is a slew of tools available for teachers and students. Even the current trends in education include the use of new technology, from collaborative projects to examples of blended learning to old-school traditional textbook teaching executed with new and innovative tools.
For students, the core aim of project-based learning is to put theory into practice and gain new skills throughout the process. From prioritizing tasks to managing sources and summarizing concepts, they will be developing skills for life. As well as using interactive tools in group project helps students to grasp a better understanding of a concept.
A major advantage of digital tools used is better engagement in the classroom. For students it’s the curiosity, for teachers it’s a great tool to work with, to inspire and grade student work! A major advantage is that digital tools enable students and teachers to see the result immediately and make necessary changes within the tool and the project.
Browser-based tools and several apps used in education are especially useful for researching, storytelling, and collaborative video making. The aim of these tools is to encourage students to approach a task by asking open-ended questions and develop a concept of a task. They also enhance personalized learning, where students discover their own strengths, whether it is analyzing and mapping out ideas, research, or even editing.
Handy mobile devices allow students to be inspired when outside the classroom by creating and sharing ideas and creations instantly. The benefit of some of the tools is that they accommodate different approaches to projects. Whether the end result is a presentation, telling stories on an interactive timeline, or a visual board. Some apps can be useful in many ways.
Especially in the case of project-based learning, the passive ‘teacher tells students’ teaching has turned to a more ‘hands-on’ approach with students finding the best ways to present their own results. In small groups, they will be delegated tasks and feed ideas to one other. In collaborative projects, students have a chance to enhance their skills in communication, critical thinking, productivity, and problem-solving.
Here is a mini-guide to some of the project-based learning tools.
There are several project-based learning tools that teachers can use to help their students engage in hands-on, experiential learning.
1. Google Classroom
Google Classroom is a digital classroom manager that aims to simplify creating, distributing, and grading assignments. With Google Classroom, teachers can create online classrooms, distribute assignments, post announcements, and start discussions within the class.
Google Classroom is integrated with other Google apps, such as Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms, so teachers and students can share and collaborate on documents in real-time. Teachers can create assignments, set deadlines, and grade assignments from within Google Classroom. Students can turn in assignments, ask questions, and receive feedback from their teacher, all within the same platform.
This platform provides a secure online environment where teachers can manage class discussions, assignments, quizzes and polls.
Edmodo can be an effective tool for project-based learning (PBL) because it offers a variety of features that allow teachers and students to collaborate, share resources, and communicate effectively throughout the project.
Here are some ways Edmodo can work in project-based learning:
Edmodo allows students to work collaboratively on projects. Teachers can create project groups, where students can share ideas, ask questions, and collaborate on project tasks.
Feedback and assessment can also be improved with Edmodo, as it allows teachers to provide feedback to students on their work, which is essential in project-based learning. Teachers can grade assignments, provide comments, and give feedback on student progress.
Edmodo provides a platform for teachers and students to communicate throughout the project. Teachers can provide guidance, answer questions, and provide feedback in real-time, while students can share updates on their progress and ask for help as needed.
Edmodo can also be used for students to reflect on their project experience. Teachers can encourage students to reflect on their learning, what worked well, and what they could improve upon for future projects.It can be a valuable tool for project-based learning because it promotes collaboration, communication, resource sharing, feedback, and reflection.
Trello can help students in project-based learning by providing a visual and collaborative platform for organizing and tracking project tasks and progress.
As a project-based learning tools, its boards and cards can help students or teachers manage project tasks. Teachers can create a Trello board for each project and create cards for each task that needs to be completed. Students can then be added to the board and assigned specific tasks, which they can move from one stage to another (such as ‘to do,’ ‘in progress,’ and ‘done’) as they complete underlying activities and lesson items in their project.
Trello’s visual interface also makes it easy for students to see the big picture of the project and understand their role in it. In a perfect world, students would use Trello to set deadlines for tasks, add comments and attachments to cards, and communicate with other group members about their progress but in many cases, that tight integration may be beyond their skill, or overkill for the project-based activities.
Like Trello, Padlet is a digital bulletin board, useful for sharing ideas and collaborating on projects, whether teacher to students or student to student.
This tool allows students to create visually engaging presentations and graphics. It also has short videos and projects can be easily organized in folders.
This game-based learning platform allows teachers to create quizzes and other interactive learning activities, making it useful as a project-based learning tool for students to practice skills necessary to successfully complete activities in a PBL unit.
Scratch is another potential project-based learning tool used in the right context. It is a free programming platform that allows students to create many products, including interactive stories, games, and animations.
8. Minecraft Education Edition
This massively popular game also can act as a project-based learning tool. Using a game-based approach to learning, students can use skills and concepts in math, social studies, architecture, literature and more making Minecraft a useful tool for teaching a variety of subjects while being a natural technology took to engage students.
See also What Teachers Can Learn From Minecraft
This platform allows teachers to create interactive presentations and quizzes that engage students in real-time.
Flip (formerly FlipGrid) is a tool to make short videos that can be used for video-based interaction between students. This video discussion platform is a great way for students to collaborate and share ideas, or brainstorming together at any stage of the project-based learning process.
As the name suggests, this tool is great for mapping out ideas. A good way to start a project is by asking driving questions like what is the essence of a project? It’s great for collaborative brainstorming in project planning and analyzing concepts. Flip is available for free in the Apple Store, and for Android users.