Jonathan Martin’s post “Project Based Learning for the 21st Century: A Disappointing Video” has been “haunting” me a bit – in a positively good way. I responded with a comment on his blog, and I “thought out loud” by posting this early reaction – “Wanted: PBL ‘Coffee House.'” Even earlier, during Christmas vacation, I posted a vlog in order to contemplate some elements of PBL (“Vlogging is Thinking – PBL“) inspired by the same BIE video that spurred Martin’s “disappointing video” post.
More recently, Martin has posted “8 High Quality Project Based Learning (PBL) Videos.” Also, my learning and teaching partner, Jill Gough, has gotten into the blog-comment discussion, too. I am hoping for even more ripples in the pond…more learners and teachers entering the coffee house for PBL (see Steve Johnson’s TED talk if you are unfamiliar with the coffee house reference).
Now, I would like to offer another response to Martin’s blog post and provide an additional thread for the coffee house discussion about PBL. I am making an hypothesis that Kiran Bir Sethi’s TED talk comes closer to what Martin was hoping for in the BIE video about project-based learning.
Through the video story of Riverside School and “infecting India,” I believe that Sethi hits at the heart of what Martin says he finds to be missing from the BIE video – a meaningful and tangible connection of the student project to a real-world issue…and through media/experiences that make an impact on the issue (as opposed to just making posters for the viewing of members of the class). Relevancy – first-hand-involvement style relevancy – provides the “rigor” (I prefer “vigor“) that Martin wishes for the BIE video.
In the near future, I hope to publish a series of posts about PBL, what stands in the way of PBL implementation, and how schools can overcome those obstacles and integrate more PBL into their curricula. Engaging in this virtual discussion with Martin and others is invaluable to me as I think through the complexities of PBL. Additionally, I find the “What is 21st Century Education?” post to be particularly enlightening about the discipline of quality PBL. And, of course, Linda Darling-Hammond pubishes outstanding work about PBL. For me, the most revealing has been Powerful Learning: What We Know About Teaching for Understanding.