Most of us did not experience PBL as students in the classroom, so before we can expect educators to foster this type of learning environment, we need to expose them to a technology-rich, PBL environment. Modeling a PBL environment during staff development gives educators firsthand experience with the process of planning, working in a collaborative group with peers, and learning in a project-based setting. This allows them to experience the same successes, failures, and frustrations their students will encounter in this type of classroom environment.
A project-based approach to technology staff development lends itself to creating technologically literate educators and provides a replicable classroom model that is fundamentally different from traditional transmittal staff development models. Using a project-based approach for teaching technology provides the opportunity to learn both how and when to use a skill. This environment also provides an opportunity for educators to work in a collaborative group with their peers and experience the same successes, failures, and frustrations their students will encounter in this type of classroom environment. Trainers must model the coaching, facilitation, and assessment skills the participating educators will need in order to lead successful projects in their classrooms.
The goal of project-based staff development is to create tasks and an environment as similar as possible to what participants will be expected to create in the classroom. In the same way that project work in the classroom requires an extended time frame, a project-based model for staff development requires a multiple-day commitment. Participants gain firsthand knowledge of the learning process and the experience to create that environment in their own classrooms.
A ProjectLearn Academy demonstrates a model project process that participants can replicate in their classrooms, including how to introduce a project and its requirements, the brainstorming process, group formation, storyboarding, strategies for maximizing group dynamics, and feedback and assessment.
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