Learning Outside The Box With Project-Based Education
A dynamic educational experience known as project-based learning is sweeping the online learning field—leaving students more actively engaged than ever before. This exciting approach to learning, although not necessarily a new concept, has students of all abilities mastering competencies through participation rather than simply burying their heads in books.
As a major proponent of project-based education, Virtual Learning Academy Charter School believes this approach is an effective way of empowering today’s students to be engaged in their own education—rather than uninterested and uninspired to learn.
What is Project-based Learning?
Project-based education allows a student to further their learning in different disciplines by exploring real-world problems and challenges. The idea of project-based learning follows the tenets of an age-old idea of “learning by doing”—something of which both Confucius and Aristotle were early proponents, according to this short history of Project-Based Education by EduTopia.
At VLACS, students take part in project-based learning through a program called Learning Through Projects. The LTP program empowers students to learn and demonstrate mastery of academic content by working through and completing projects. These projects may take the place of portions of or all of the traditional course content and allow a student to get an inside glimpse at real-world professions and trades.
Here are a few of VLACS’s project-based learning examples that should get your creative and educational juices flowing:
Earth and Space Science—Scriptwriter: You are a Scriptwriter for a Planetarium. You have been asked to prepare a script and slideshow. Your job is to explain the formation of the solar system, characteristics of objects in the solar system, eclipses, moon phases, and the seasons.
US History—Set Production Designer: Understand how cultural and artistic trends reflect or influence values by creating a set production design depicting ideas and values during specific times periods such as the 1920s.
French 3a—Event Project Manager: You are an Event Project Manager for an event planning company. You will be writing and presenting an event proposal for your company’s French-speaking potential client. You are proposing an event for a Francophone holiday (of your choice). This will involve coordinating with a team of people and suppliers to accomplish a variety of tasks to organize the event.
Physical Science—Toy Designer: You are a Toy Designer for a marketing company. You will be planning the features and design of a toy and demonstrating how the toy works to the marketing team. Your toy needs to use electromagnets and a simple circuit in order to have the toy move, make noise or light up. You will also identify potential environmental impacts that the toy might have in your demonstration.
English 1—Freelance Blog Writer: You are a Freelance Blog Writer for an online blogging firm where you are expected to create valuable and creative content for customers. You will use explanatory writing techniques to develop your blog posts on a topic of your choice. The goal is to help your readers to increase their knowledge of the topic you are writing about.
Project-based learning is an excellent method of learning by doing. When students are in charge of their own projects and not limited by instructor-defined parameters, they are only limited by their own imaginations. Projects become more meaningful and interesting when students take ownership of them.
Students demonstrate competency through performance assessments that are completed on their own with the guidance of a VLACS instructor. While not limited by instructor-defined parameters, these LTP projects have guidelines and offer direction to ensure that the student is mastering the competency at a deep level.
At VLACS, we strongly believe project-based learning is an excellent way to capture student interest, encourage critical thinking and teach complex concepts through experience, thought, and action. We also offer a variety of courses and experiential learning opportunities designed to help students gain valuable experience in and out of the online classroom.
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