Project-Based Learning is a successful educational method designed to build up into durable, usable, and flexible knowledge. Applying this approach in a Virtual Classroom sums up the advantages of project-based learning to the many possibilities offered by digital technologies online. The best teaching practices in the remote setting of project-based assignments focus on teamwork, empathy, relevance, project management tools, online fieldwork, student choice, exposure of results, definition of roles and feedback. The Virtual Classroom provides a suitable environment with many tools and functions to perform those practices. Successful implementation of project-based learning in the virtual context requires the educators to step up from the position of mere tutors into the role of facilitators who help the students grow into skilled professionals who will excel in their future careers.
Why Project-Based Learning?
Psychology professor David Daniel says that the goal of learning should be to create durable, usable, and flexible knowledge. Project-based learning develops skills as well as knowledge. It focuses on collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity. This schooling approach teaches students to reflect on and solve real-world problems and enhances their self-evaluation. Project-Based Learning is the crucial method in building durable, usable, and flexible knowledge with life-long benefits for the students.
Why Project-Based Learning in the Virtual Classroom?
Project-based learning has proven itself to be a winning strategy in physical education. In the Virtual classroom more benefits add up to the advantages of this teaching approach. In the remote setting, authenticity and creativity, student voice and choice, self and mutual evaluation can be enhanced by the educators through the implementation of online tools and apps. Teachers should provide professionally tailored projects that allow the students to work independently at home, to collaborate online and to expose their results in an interesting and engaging way that guarantees continuity of learning and usability of the knowledge gained. Focused on interactivity and gamification, the Virtual Classroom’s variety of tools and functions allows for project based learning to be performed in an interesting and fulfilling way for both tutors and students.
Best Practices of Project-Based Learning in the Virtual Classroom
Project-based learning in the Virtual Classroom has proven itself to be a method that helps students to develop and practice contemporary digital skills. It improves their engagement and achievement, preparing them to succeed in their future careers. For this approach to be fully effective, teachers must learn to step back from their position as direct educators and assume the role of facilitators in the remote setting. Here are the most relevant best practices for teachers in the context of online project-based learning together with examples based on the Virtual Classroom’s functionalities:
Support and enhance team spirit
Working together is crucial for any enterprise’s success. Tutors should organize the tasks and steps within a project in a way that encourages team collaboration and communication. Students should be motivated to share and discuss while in the process of creating and ideating.
The Virtual Classroom’s capacity to show who did what on the interactive Whiteboard gives the tutor a wide range of options to induce a team-oriented approach in the students. Everyone is exposed to be corrected, supported and guided not only by the teacher, but primarily by the fellow team members. Shared rooms and whiteboard sections focus on togetherness, mutual effort and optimization of skills according to the project’s requirements and inner tasks.
Relevance and applicability
Especially in the remote environment, it is extremely important that the topic and goal of a project are relevant and representative of a real world scenario. The closer a task is to a real professional or creative context, the more the students will feel engaged and consider their work purposeful and significant.
To assure this fundamental benefit of the project-based learning online, the tutors play the crucial role. They might dispose of various resources, but only their adequate decisions will transform those into useful material for the educational mission. The teachers’ job is facilitated by many of the Virtual Classrooms tools, like saving and reusing templates, tracking, follow up and export of all Whiteboard activities. The possibility of importing any external material gives the schooling professional unlimited freedom to create and assign adequate projects issued from relevant and up-to-date real-life scenarios.
Giving the students the right to choose how a particular assignment will be performed is a key component of project-based learning. Even further this applies to the virtual environment. A schooling professional should consider the students’ preferences and let them apply it to splitting into teams, to the specific roles, to the distribution of tasks and components of the project, even to the topic of the project itself.
Within the Virtual Classroom, a students’ choice is applicable to many parameters of an assigned project. The students can decide on the type and content of uploaded material for a particular task, as the platform allows video, audio, text, image and links to be uploaded by any participant. Also, if the host enables it, every individual can control their own or a group layout. This option can motivate the students to arrange their workspace, as well as to accommodate the group environment to the project or to the preferences of other participants.
In the remote context, fieldwork might consist of broader research and data collection on websites of libraries, data sets, social media, art galleries and any other specific recourses relevant to the project’s topic. Collection and analysis of information, interviewing and discussions, research and observation are amongst the particular tasks that can simulate physical fieldwork in the online sitting. The teachers should emphasize those in order to prepare and motivate the students for the real-life scenarios they will face in their future careers.
Virtual Classroom normally is set with the distraction monitoring on, for the tutor to be in control of the educational process and the audience’s attention and concentration. In the context of project-based learning, the students’ autonomy within certain tasks is crucial for building research skills and for encouraging proactivity, motivation and thinking. Thus, for the purposes of successful online fieldwork within the assignment, the tutor can switch between different levels of restriction upon different groups or individuals, while they need to access external resources or to perform activities outside of the Virtual Classroom.