Reflections on PBL, the #IntDevProject

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.IMG_2899I 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.

Students on Skype call with Sam Barlow     in studio

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.


2 thoughts on “Reflections on PBL, the #IntDevProject

  1. Wow, heavy stuff! I can’t imagine this project ever ending up in the recycling bin, literally or figuratively. From the two examples you included, it sounds like the learning that occurred through the duration of this project will always stay with the students. The topics they researched will surely resonate within their consciousness throughout their lives. The skills of collaboration, problem solving, and communication which they developed and used in order to find information, resources, and create their videos/podcasts will definitely extend far beyond the actual final product or grade received for the project.

    1. Thanks for the comment Magdalena! We certainly do cover some heavy material in my World Issues class. I find that the grade 12 students are quite capable of tackling these big issues with the tack and respect that is needed. I certainly hope that the experience and learning will stay with them in the years to come. The project was a lot of fun and I look forward to doing it again next year. Thanks again for sharing my blog and for your comment!

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