Flipped Learning: Flipped Learning | Part 6: Successful Project Based Learning Is Paired With Flipped Learning!

Flipped Learning | Part 6: Successful Project Based Learning Is Paired With Flipped Learning!

Author: Robin Nguyen Post date: 02-05-2019

Project-based learning is more than just projects. As the Buck Institute for Education (BIE) explains, with PBL students “investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex problem, or challenge” with deep and sustained attention. 

I. Why is Project Based Learning (PBL) the method that empowers the 21st skills!

We now live in a society that is “rapidly changing” and has an “advancing knowledge base” and we are constantly called upon to “solve complex issues on a daily basis” (Brears et al., 2001, p. 36).
As a result, employers are looking for individuals that can adapt to new situations and develop innovative solutions to problems that we have never seen before. Thus, our new generation need to be trained to think differently and cultivate skills that have traditionally been ignored in the school setting. These new skills are being called “21st century competencies” (Alberta Education, 2013, p. 3).
This mode of teaching enables teachers to prepare students for the high demands of our constantly evolving society. Along with an examination of the need for change in our education delivery model that moves towards a PBL model in 21st century classrooms.
Project-based learning is more than just projects. As the Buck Institute for Education (BIE) explains, with PBL students “investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex problem, or challenge” with deep and sustained attention.

For most modern workers, it will be a series of projects that mark their career rather than years of service to a specific organization. “Solving real-world issues that matter is important to us as adults—and it’s important to our students,” explain Lathram, Lenz, and Vander Ark in their ebook, Preparing Students for a Project-Based World.

II. The challenges in implementing the project based learning

Regarding of the benefits of Project Based Learning, the process of implementing it has many challenges:

1. Teachers’ skills: The main issue is the lack of student preparation for PBL and how to assist teachers in addressing this issue. Students are currently being taught in traditional, teacher-directed classrooms that demands little inquiry on behalf of the students. As a result, when students are put into self-directed learning situations they struggle with the responsibility of performing inquiry activities on their own. Thus, it is necessary for teachers to develop these skills before demanding them from their students.

2. Curriculum Model: Within a traditional classroom it is very common to see the focus of the lesson on the teacher delivering information while the students are expected to retain what is being presented to them. It is rare that students are expected to engage in problem solving situations that are relevant to their current situations. Thus, there has been a demand for a redesign of education to meet the demands of our current society.
As a result, classrooms will begin to see the effects of these changes to educational goals. Classrooms will need to adjust to support an environment that puts a greater emphasis on education than on the school; on the learner than on the system; on competencies than on content; on inquiry, discovery and the application of knowledge than on the dissemination of information; and on technology to support the creation and sharing of knowledge than on technology to support the teaching (Government of Alberta, 2013, p. 2).

Implementation of 21st century learning into the classrooms will result in changes at all levels of the educational system. Previously held beliefs regarding teacher instruction and student learning will need to be transformed as new methodologies are introduced into the classroom.

3. Strategy from the school board: Not only will students and teachers experience pedagogical shifts, but school boards will also be forced to alter their previously held ideologies on learning. This change to education is giving teachers the freedom to govern their own classrooms and deliver content of their choosing based on the established guidelines and strategy of the school boards. It is also a drastic change from the traditional model that educators are forced to follow.


4. Student preparation: Students are forced to take on new responsibilities for their learning that they have never had before. Self-directed learning can prove “particularly difficult” for learners when it comes to “applying metacognitive strategies”. Rather than participating in traditional “didactic teaching and learning experiences” (Grant, 2011, p. 50), students are now expected to be “responsible for their own learning” and employ “reflective, critical thinking skills”.

This means students can no longer rely on “merely memorizing facts and right answers” to succeed in the classroom (Murray & Saven-Baden, 2000, p. 110). While Licht (2014) describes PBL as allowing students to take control of their learning and enabling them to grow as learners, Camp (2011) stresses that students are “not experiences with the open-ended nature” of PBL.


III. Successful project based learning is paired with flipped classroom!

When Project Based Learning (PBL) is paired with Flipped Learning, there is now time to do PBL the right way. PBL is the act of using a project as a learning tool for students to gain understanding as well as express their mastery of the curriculum. Instead of the question being, What is the best instructional model?, the real question is, What is the best use of face-to-face time with students? The flipped model gives educators the commodity we most long for: TIME. And what does time give us? The opportunity to be consistent and develop a method of instruction with integrity. (Daniel Jones – Flipped 3.0 Project Based Learning).

At IBI School, we intentionally invert the design a learning environment so students engage in activities, apply concepts, and focus on higher level learning outcomes during class time. This definition encourages us to think strategically about the learning experiences we are designing with our students so they can achieve the learning outcomes. The focus is not the technology. It’s the process. It’s the process of involving our students in applying and analyzing course content, making decisions, critiquing a topic.
Below is how it was structured:

  • 30% of learning time is used in studying at a student’s own pace via IBI sefl-pace learning courses – eClasses.
  • 50% of learning time is used in USING and PRACTICING English language in IBI live classroom – eConversations.
  • 20% of learning time is used in implementing innovation projects through IBI outdoor learning program integrated in the curriculum.


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