Friday, June 24, 2016

Project Based Learning: Recursion with the Past and Present

Recursion with the Past and Present


Recursion is a  common dynamic across living systems.  Patterns that repeat and repeat, but are never exactly the same can be seen in biology and physics as well as in themes and style across literature, national histories and our individual lives. "Reinvention" is recursion, sometimes sans a salute to precedent.

Whereas individual fields of study may address their respective subjects in similar ways, they do repeat and repeat in ways that are similar and yet not quite the same. Indeed, scholars do "reinvent" the wheels of thought as a matter of professional practice. These dynamics are precisely how we assimilate and internalize new ideas and ways of doing things, to paraphrase Jean Piaget, how we make ideas our own. However, "reinvention" also illustrates our reluctance to "travel cross country" to other disciplines, fields of study and practice as Alfred North Whitehead puts it.  "Reinvention" with a nod to those who have come before is a principle of sound scholarship. However, our digital environment is stretching our egos further.... as we have access to so many addressing the very same questions and subjects of inquiry simultaneously.

The case in point I have in mind is the emerging interest in project based learning among online learning enterprises...ie MOOCs and not for profit, social change oriented trainings.

There are rich online resources pertaining to the constructivist rationale and philosophy of PBL as well as elaborate guides for designing and integrating PBL into face2face, blended and online only curricula.  For example, http://bie.org/

Interestingly, most if not all of the PBL sites have been formulated for and by K12 educators, and teachers of teachers with wide experience in what works to engage young people in learning and discovery.  Imagine the implications if post-secondary faculty and social change not-for-profits were to acknowledge the work of K12 educators!  Since we are in the realm of imagination, think about the stratified world of occupations and fields of study at stake in this challenge to business as usual in the use of what has gone before....or what is ongoing!

In the spirit of PBL self-discovery, conduct your own web search for PBL for step by step guides to what it is, best practices and research pertaining to pre and post-secondary schooling.

What is new to you about PBL? What about PBL challenges your current teaching methods? Are you interested in learning more about PBL?