These are the buzzwords in education that we have heard around the world recently. There is a massive push for it, and, after trying it out for the past 6 months, I understand why. Essentially, Project Based Learning is exactly what it says in the title. Students will have a project / goal / task and then acquire skills to complete a project. Problem Based Learning is where students define a real-world problem, understand it, analyse it, then work on solving that problem. This project is end-to-end - from ideation, to prototyping, and finally communicating why this is a successful solution.
Project Based Learning in my generation can be seen from building a billy-cart - you knew very quickly if it did work - and even quicker if it didn’t work. From these successes or failures, students learn and adapt very quickly at a pace they feel comfortable, which enhances their learning experience.
Problem Based Learning lets students find out about the world they are living in, discover more places, meet new people, and invent things that could help our current society. Because this current generation has been digitised since birth, teachers can use students’ skills rather than feel intimidated by them, and also empowers students to explore on websites like YouTube, thereby encouraging the inquisitive nature we were all born with.
Is there room for both of these ‘Projects’? Yes. The reason is that Project Based Learning students have a project they are interested in, and are learning new tools for the joy of it. These programs can last for a session or can be drawn out over several weeks. Program Based Learning students are asked to dig deep, research, and experiment. Essentially these programs can work side-by-side, as they have different outcomes and should be taught differently.
Who are the winners here?
The students: They will benefit from this inclusive learning style that is also tailored so the student can learn at the pace that they are comfortable with. This has been shown in the ‘Sigma 2 Problem’ to have a better potential for learning experience.
The Teachers and Staff: This new style of teaching is going to help teachers watch students grow and develop a new skillset, while being up-skilled at the same time. The world has changed and is continually evolving – the curriculum and teaching techniques need to do the same. We adapt the curriculum regularly, and when technology changes daily, we need to be agile, flexible, adaptable, and have the courage to try new things.
The Community: providing students with world-class initiatives is priceless, allowing all students to succeed regardless of the socio-economic area, number of teachers, or equipment, is what every school, teacher, parent, and community wants.
Project and Problem Based Learning ticks a lot of boxes in terms of educating both students and teachers. STEMPunks system allows an insight into the future of education, by future-proofing communities and enabling equality for all students.