On December 14, 2010, Jonathan Martin posted a provocative piece about the Buck Institute’s Common Craft video of PBL (project-based learning): Project Based Learning for the 21st century: A Disappointing Video. Only a few readers have commented publicly on the post, and I am hoping more people get inspired to do so. I think we need a Steven-Johnson-esque “coffee house” discussion of the richness and possible limitations of PBL, including the range of project possibilities that could be brainstormed from the initial seeds spread by BIE and Jonathan Martin.
Martin points out that a mere poster project of kids sneezing in their sleeves seems inadequate as quality PBL. What if the video indicated that posters were vetted with the CDC for infectious-disease prevention considerations? What if the video suggested that the posters were further analyzed for PresentationZen-level design? What if the video detailed that the posters were distributed around the school, and the students designed experiments and research studies for tracking the incidence of illness after the posters had been posted? Could the students wrestle with the difficulties of isolating variables and determining if there was any way to measure the effectiveness of their public-service-announcement campaign? Would these additional steps create the level of complexity and richness in the video that Martin is right to advocate for?
Get in the coffee house and include your thinking. We will all benefit from exercising our leadership in this discussion by contributing to ideas that none of us could necessarily have on our own.
Better yet…take up a challenge of producing a better video…a set of videos that BIE would scramble to include on it’s fantastic website.