So What’s Your Problem?

Lurked in the chatroom briefly during EdTech Talk Brainstorm 17A and caught part of the conversation relating to an ultimate multimedia classroom and Dave was pondering what he would do with his class if and when he got an opportunity. There were a few suggestions from the skyped in panel of brainstorms that might cover some of the wide array of tech tools but to me, the answer was immediately obvious. I typed in - "Get them to solve a problem."

Dave typed back, "What do you mean, Graham?"

I then in my best typing skills briefly outlined a Problem Based Learning scenario. Pose the issue/problem and then the students use the various tools to come up with their own solutions. I'm no expert but running a school wide PBL program has been part of my job role over the past three years. Jeff Flynn picked up on my chatroom jottings and brought them back to Dave's attention and it seemed to hit the mark.

So, I thought it would be appropriate to provide some links to the methodology of PBL, especially as practised when I work with teachers and classes at my school. Firstly, when I wanted to get a definite process, I found this outline on the TSOF website. Quotation Slab:-

Problem based learning recognises that students are more likely to be engaged:

  • when their learning is relevant and meaningful,
  • when they are involved in identifying the focus and
  • when they are dealing with real life issues where the 'answer' is not a forgone conclusion.

This is the basic model, our teacher-librarian and I have used to implement our program. I've also poked around a little bit at Temasek Polytechnic's Problem Based Learning site where there are other great links to more reading. I'll round off with a few links to my own unit plans for PBL over the past few years - 2003 Animal Real Estate and 2005 Natural Disasters.

Basically, Problem Based Learning can be applied to any area of the curriculum and in any educational setting. I have read about it being used in medical school as well as in junior primary classrooms when deciding on a class pet. I'll have to dig some more samples off the school server to load onto my RWLO account and anyone who is interested (anyone?) can check them out.

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