To create the image above, I first watched http://www.newtechnetwork.org/video/tutorial-what-pbl?utm_campaign=Argyle%2BSocial-2013-01&utm_medium=Knowledgeworks&utm_source=twitter&utm_term=2013-01-18-13-07-38.
Then, I attempted to diagram the difference in the students’ and teachers’ roles in the process of “doing projects” vs. engaging in project-based learning. The differences are subtle at first, but they have a great impact on students’ opportunity to develop of 21st-century skills. When we “do a project”, it often is a “capstone” to a unit where teachers held the answers, asked kids to do a specific set of tasks, and students found out and memorized the content answers until the unit ended. In project-based learning, instead of starting with teachers having all the answers, teachers instead pose a question, and students engage in inquiry to discover the answers, thereby developing the skills needed to solve problems, communicate, and be successful in real-world situations. Doing projects results in a bit of a “dead end” in learning, whereas PBL systems allow for learning to build and for skills to be developed and applied to more and more challenging problems.