Complications & Connections
Complications: Project-based courses may be challenging to translate into an online or HyFlex modality. First of all, group work means professors need to be comfortable with designing technology-based collaborative opportunities. And second of all, true project-based learning means curriculum must be at least somewhat emergent; this can complicate much online-oriented instructional design, which tends to focus on backwards design, competency-based linear progression, and pre-set modules and learning materials.
Connections to ACE: PBL is often built around an adaptable ethos since students are given significant agency in the learning process, which means that the process will in some ways reflect their lived realities. But because PBL is often team-based, we may need to investigate new tools to help us bring together individual students into cohorts that can connect in a sustained way. Doing this while working to ameliorate the different barriers that individual students will face during a time of crisis will mean centering equity in your design process.
If you use PBL in your course, you may want to consider how HyFlex or Modular design can help you group certain kinds of activities that require face-to-face interaction together so that you can run those activities while campus is open. But if the curriculum needs to move fully online, the following resources may help you think about how you can preserve the basic principles of PBL as you transition to an online modality.
- This webinar by Professors Cathie LeBlanc, Brandon Haas, and Elisabeth Johnston focuses specifically on what faculty should consider when moving a PBL course online.
- This resource contains tips and projects related to guiding children in any grade through project-based learning—with or without technology.
- These are the Buck Institute’s Essential Project Design Elements (the “gold standard elements for PBL”).
- This webinar by PBLWorks focuses on solutions for sticky problems of practice for facilitating PBL online.
- This is the list of best practices for online PBL created by WPI (one of the more renowned universities doing PBL).