How does the addition of new technology influence the important role that teachers play in PBL?

PBL Wordle

How does technology impact teacher practice?

Providing more individualized ways for students to express their understanding is important for student learning. Incorporating engaging, collaborative experiences into the classroom provides students with the opportunity to work with others to extend their understanding in areas that are of interest to them.

Some of the most creative ideas are born out of collaborative experiences. That’s why I love project based learning (PBL). Most of the research I encounter about PBL focuses on the many benefits for student learning, however, the important role that teachers play throughout the process is often overlooked.

I am interested in learning more about what it is, essentially, that teachers involved in PBL actually do. PBL assumes that teachers will provide rich, engaging opportunities for students to learn and these opportunities are associated with curriculum, teacher interest, and student interest as well. It’s a collaborative effort from the onset. Experience, attitude, and open-mindedness also play an important role in PBL. Without a doubt, teachers who provide opportunities for students to pursue their goals through PBL demonstrate both flexibility and creativity.

Technology can play a role in PBL – and at many levels. Technology in the classroom is not a new idea, but the types of technology that are available for educational use continues to grow and change at a rapid rate. Like PBL, we know that incorporating technology into the classroom also has the potential to positively influence classroom experiences– and not just for students, but for teachers as well. When teachers bring new technology into their programs, new conversations develop: between teachers and students, among students themselves, and between teachers and other colleagues. Teachers willing to try something new brace themselves for the unexpected and have a willingness to think creatively to find solutions to challenges as they arise. Teachers who are willing to try new technology in the classroom also demonstrate an adaptability and creativity that has the potential to influence learning for themselves and their students. For me, PBL is mutually beneficially for students and teachers.

Given the diverse approaches and focus of PBL and the many ways teachers go about providing these experiences for their students, I wonder what can be learned about changes in teacher practice when technology is integrated throughout the process of PBL? I wonder how technology affects the conversations between teachers and students, among the students, and among teachers and colleagues. How might the addition of new technology impact the important role that teachers play in PBL? What can be learned about the integration of new technology and teacher practice in this context?

I hope that through an examination and reflection of my own practice I will gain some insight into these questions. As I integrate and apply technology into my classroom experience, I plan to acknowledge and record any connections that can be made to my questions about technology and practice. Given the diverse nature of PBL and the many ways teachers teach, I will also seek out other teacher perspectives. Ultimately, I hope that this experience will help me gain an understanding of what it is that teachers engaged in PBL actually do.

5 thoughts on “How does the addition of new technology influence the important role that teachers play in PBL?

  1. Matina!

    There are some really juicy questions here. I love it!

    This is a resource that I have shared with many Cohort friends. It’s the High Tech High guide to project based learning. This school in California (actually, they are many schools now) really knows how to make meaningful learning happen and they are certainly a source to learn great things from.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9vDCLDArV-sVFdQc3NYUXpYNUU/view?usp=sharing

    Take some time to read through the PDF and see if anything resonates with you / what are hoping to learn this year!

  2. Matina,

    Technology, students, teachers and PBL are indeed a potent mix, and well worth the attention you’re giving them. The possibilities are endless. Your research question reminded me of an interview with Jim Collins I read recently (in Independent School, spring 2015). On the topic of leaders, Collins mentions the importance of having a BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal (love that!). I wonder if part of the teacher’s role (while leveraging tech and PBL) is to allow students to set BHAGs. That would require a big step outside of our professional comfort zone. What would happen if we let students think really big? What else would we need to do/provide so students felt able to pursue their goals?

    Your great questions having me asking my own…:-).

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