Project-Based Teaching and Learning Are Essential for 21st Century Education

Excellent project-based teaching engages students in meaningful and relevant learning. Students in project-based environments are motivated and involved learners. Teachers use guided inquiry and a transdisciplinary approach to nurture in-depth learning. They focus students’ work and deepen their learning by centering on significant issues, concepts, questions and problems. A project-based approach helps students learn important content, develop intellectual capacities and acquire essential skills, from calculating to collaborating.

The project-based approach to teaching creates for students the need and desire to learn essential content and skills. Project-based learning begins with a vision for a product that requires learning specific knowledge, skills and concepts, thus creating a context and rationale to study the information and ideas. Learning content across disciplines creates context for students, which results in a much higher level of understanding than that attained through traditional teaching of subject areas in isolation.

Project-based learning necessitates inquiry to discover or construct new knowledge and understanding. Inquiry demands that students explore new ideas, consider options, solve problems and share what they have learned. They must work collaboratively and use critical thinking and problem solving skills. Students need to do much more than remember information-they need to construct knowledge, develop understanding and solve complex problems wile working together in a team. Students must listen to each other, articulate their own ideas and present projects effectively.

One of the many advantages of project-based learning is that students have a voice and choice. Students become skilled at working independently and assume responsibility for their work when they have the opportunity to make choices. Another benefit is the process of feedback and revision, in which students critique each others’ work. In the end, students present their results publicly. The process of preparing and delivering a project presentation in and of itself is a significant learning experience for students.

In summary, projects contain and frame the curriculum. The content of projects typically includes several disciplines and multiple skills. Students gain a deep understanding of the concepts that are central to the project. They develop critical skills in a variety of skill areas according to the nature of the project. Projects also foster and an enduring love for learning. They can encourage students to address global and local issues, explore interests and build on strengths, interact with adults in various professions, use educational technology, and present their work to audiences beyond the classroom. Project-based learning usually motivates all students and almost always has a life-changing impact on students who might otherwise find school boring or meaningless.

Be Smart About Higher Education: 5 Steps to Determine When and How You Begin Change

Change can involve excitement and looked at as a great opportunity or be scary and as the worst thing that can happen. Whether it is a good or bad experience is contingent on a person’s attitude. Regardless of how it is experienced, normalizing change is the pathway to a fulfilled life.

A baby’s first steps are shaky, but eventually result in a flop. Moving from middle school to high school for the first time is something to look forward to, but upper classmen can be intimidating. Leaving home to go to college means freedom and independence, but also the potential for homesickness, intimidation with arrogant professors, and hard-to-get-along-with roommates. Day one on the first real job is the start of a new chapter in life, but feeling totally stupid is common.

The aforementioned experiences are a common pathway for students pursuing higher education. Real change begins by making difficult choices. After getting to high school, will the student respond appropriately or react negatively to bullies and gossipers? Are the challenges of pursuing higher education leaned into rather than avoided or denied? Does the fear of asking questions and false pride dictate how the new job goes?

Tough choices continue as life goes on. Mel Robbins, author of The 5 Second Rule attributes that personally coming out of bankruptcy and heavy drinking began with a process of counting backwards 5-4-3-2-1 to launch out of bed in the morning. The story is mainly about a desperate need for change of direction in her life by ignoring feelings and making a commitment to act on improving. Mel claims the seemingly insignificant process of counting 5-4-3-2-1 and launching out of bed instead of hitting the snooze button began the road to recovery that led to being one of the top speakers in the world.

The key to Mel’s success is being smart about what needs done and taking the action to do it by not giving in to what feels comfortable. Another bad guy is analysis paralysis that involves too much thinking eventually resulting in talking yourself out of doing anything. Although the research varies, many would agree it takes at least 21 days to create a habit. The time leading up to creating a habit is hard because change is a challenge! Failed New Year’s resolutions are ongoing proof.

An accompanying bad guy to analysis paralysis is cognitive distortion. Cognitive distortions are simply ways the mind convinces itself of something that isn’t really true. The inaccurate thoughts reinforce negative thinking. The tricky part is, a rationale is built around the false ideas. Following are some common distortions people use:

Pessimism – amplifying the negative while filtering out the positive.

Helplessness – feeling helpless over what happens in life.

Overgeneralization – basing an opinion on a single piece of evidence.

Blaming – “it’s not my fault, you don’t understand.”

Emotional reasoning – feelings are automatically indicative of what is true.

Attempts to change are unlikely with dominant cognitive distortions. That’s why The 5 Second Rule is so effective in completing a predetermined decision. The only thing to think about is repeating the 5 second count down to take action. Distortions based on feelings or over thinking are to be ignored.

Answering five questions serves as additional help in determining when and how to change:

Where are you? Take an honest and objective look at your status right now physically, emotionally, relationally, mentally (academically), spiritually, and financially.

Where are you going and why? Write down dreams and get a vision and purpose to stay focused.

Who are you? Know every person is talented, gifted, and destined for great things. The hardest person to convince of that is you.

What are you doing that matters? Pay it forward.

When and how are you going to start the changes needed to be smart about higher education and live a life that matters?

Begin using The 5 Second Rule: 5-4-3-2-1, start answering these questions now!

Definition of Distance Education

Distance education is oftentimes referred to as “Distance Learning” as well, and is simply defined as “a field of education focusing on the andragogy and pedagogy, instructional systems, and technology which endeavor to deliver an education to students who are not physically in a classroom or campus setting.” In its simplest terms, it means earning a degree online.

The use of electronic (i.e. computers) and printed media enable the student to pursue their education without attending classes on a college or university campus. They are enabled to communicate and study at the times they select, through various technologies that allow them to interact in real time and through many different ways using the internet.

Additionally, distance education courses do not require any physical presence on-site for reasons inclusive of taking examinations that are considered to be blended or hybrid courses of study.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Distance Learning

Naturally, there are advantages and disadvantages to distance education degree programs. However, contrary to varied beliefs and opinions, the distance education advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

The Advantages of distance learning are:

1. It requires no commuting – therefore saving you money and time

2. You complete most of the classes at your own pace – no pressure

3. You can live anywhere in the world, study from anywhere in the world, and pursue your choice of distance education course studies

4. Gain extra knowledge while you are learning – taking those computer and internet skills you gain and then applying them to other facets of your life

5. The self-paced learning environment can be taken advantage of by the quickest or the slowest of learners – increases the satisfaction level while reducing stress in the process

6. Accessibility factors – distance education courses address the physical accessibility issues that people with mobility problems oftentimes encounter while being enrolled in the traditional on-campus classes

Unfortunately, you can’t discuss the advantages of distance education without covering the disadvantages. These disadvantages are the following:

7. Sometimes the technology is complex and costly – despite the numerous opportunities of distance education, there are always accompanying costs

8. Advance planning is necessary – both the instructors and the students oftentimes need to make sacrifices scheduling the times to get things done

9. Beware of hidden costs – If you’re in naval branch of the military for example, and you are out at sea, how do you receive your study materials?

10. Distance learning does not offer immediate feedback – in the traditional classroom setting, the student’s performance is immediately assessed, whereas with distance education, the student has to wait for feedback while the instructor is reviewing their work

11. Distance learning does not always offer all the necessary courses online – students pursuing specific certificates or degrees may not be afforded all the necessary courses that are available through distance education programs so some programs are not suited for all course of study.

12. Distance learning may not be acknowledged by all employers – granted, most employers will acknowledge distance education, but there are some who don’t

13. Distance learning does not give students the opportunity to work on oral communication skills – students in distance education courses do not always get to engage in verbal interaction with fellow students and professors

14. Social isolation – more often than not, you study alone and distance learning students often times feel isolated and miss the social interaction that accompanies the traditional classroom on campus

Adult Education – How is it Different?

How is it different from K-12? Why is this important to us? Discuss andragogy and life-long learning.

Adult education, how is it different? Before we discuss the practical differences, let’s first address the two primary categories of education – pedagogy, and andragogy. Simply stated, in Merriam Webster’s online dictionary, pedagogy is the art science or profession of teaching. Within the profession, however, pedagogy, more often refers to the K through 12 type of approach; the Socratic approach, if you will, where teachers teach and learners listen. The information is passed from the instructor to student – more of a rote learning approach, where the learner is dependent upon the instructor for all learning. The teacher or instructor assumes full responsibility for what is taught.

Andragogy, however, assumes that the learner is self-directed. The learner is responsible for his or her own learning. Self-evaluation is characteristic of this approach. With Andragogy, the learner brings his own experience to the learning process. Each adult learner is a source of knowledge and contributes to the overall learning experience. With this approach is more of a built in readiness to learn than in the pedagogical model. This self-motivation comes from the need to know in order to perform more effectively or to accomplish one’s goals.

So, adult education is focus more on learning what we need to know to accomplish our different life goals. The other education approach is more of a required process to gain certain basic credentials. It is often much less student centered and focuses more on specific outcomes centered around a set curriculum. Adult education in comparison to K-12 is more learner centered in the expectation is more participation based on life experience.

The adult education approach becomes important to us since the goals are primarily different. The goals are centered on achieving a specific task outcome, or learning new behaviors. The adult becomes less motivated by grade point averages, and more motivated by achieving specific goals. Most often these goals are more pragmatic, and are centered around specific outcomes at the learner wants to achieve.

In this 21st century world of complexity, all of our senses are continually being assaulted with multiple types of information. To survive and possibly even to prosper, learning becomes a lifelong process. Most of us become lifelong learners, whether we recognize that specific term or not. In essence, adult education is different primarily from our K-12 experience, and possibly early college, by both our motivation and our need. Adult education becomes a choice, not a responsibility.

Copyright November 4, 2009 Boyd K. Smith, Ph.D. All rights Reserved

Benefits of Education From an Online High School

Whether you are an adult who never completed your primary education or the parent of a child in need of special attention and flexibility, getting a diploma from an online high school may be the right choice for you. With this option, you will have a number of benefits. You will be able to take control of your education. You can learn everything you would be taught in a classroom in the comfort of your own home. You can take charge of the decisions that you make and the path that you will take during your education.

An online high school can offer an array of advantages. Mostly, you will have complete control over your education. You will have the ability to study your own assignments at your own pace. You can focus on the assignments that may take you a bit longer to complete, while easily and quickly going through assignments that are easier for you. The flexibility on education on the Internet is unmatched. Most programs allow you attend your virtual class at any time of the day, so you can work around your busy schedule. Many people that take classes on the Internet have busy schedules and often full time jobs. This form of education will allow you to work on your own terms and on your own time.

Traditional education for many people means more than just learning. When getting your diploma on the Internet, you can avoid the distractions that come along with the traditional classroom. You won’t have to deal with the cliques and other distracting students while you work on your own time. You can study when you want and where you want. Plus, many times a teacher in a traditional classroom just cannot spend extra time during class time helping each individual student with his or her own specific problems. When working within the online high school, if you do not understand a particular topic, you can take your time and pace yourself to gain a better understanding of the subject.

Whether you are an adult with a full-time job, and you want to move up in the world, or you think that your child would benefit from the pacing and attention involved in an online high school, this educational choice may be the one for you. There are a variety of options out there, so do some research and find out which one will work best for your circumstances.