I finally got an opportunity to reflect on the Project Based Learning activity that I wrote about in my last post. The project, which I called the #IntDevProject, was a huge success in many ways. The biggest successes, however, were not found in the final products, but rather in the skills and competencies that were developed by the students during the process.I was particularly impressed with my students and their ability to recognize what needed to be done to complete the project. At any given moment during the three week project students could be found reading academic articles, watching documentaries, contacting industry professionals or non-profit organizations, making Skype calls to activists like Sam Barlow, having rich discussions and heated debates, contacting project mentors (former World Issues students) like Shafiqah Muhamad Nor, Dhaman Rakhra, and Omer Aziz, or providing daily check-ins via the D2L ePortfolio app. Nearly all of this without prompting or prodding from me.
The project required the students to create three products (a video, a podcast, and an Op-Ed article) to effectively demonstrate their learning during the project and to propose potential solutions to their problem (where applicable). The results were excellent, the students created some incredibly engaging videos and podcasts and thought provoking editorial articles.
Here are a few samples of the work produced by three different groups:
A video showcasing sexual violence in DRC as a consequence of conflict minerals
A podcast, featuring an interview with Sam Barlow, on Female Genital Mutilation
Op-Ed article about Child Trafficking: Loss of Innocence
I would be lying if I said that this project was a resounding success for all of the students in my World Issues class. There were certainly students who did not thrive academically in the PBL environment – it just wasn’t a good fit with their learning style. Going forward I will be more cognizant of this and ensure that such students had additional support and perhaps more structure in their PBL journey. Conversely, most students thrived. I was particularly impressed with students who could bring skills and knowledge from other disciplines (particularly the Arts, Business, and Technology) and apply them in another context in this Geography class.
The students took immense pride in the final products they produced and shared them with not only a global community but, more importantly, with their peers.The products didn’t end up in the recycling bin at the end of the semester, and for me that is a huge win.