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Leveraging the right edtech tools is one of the best ways to support students in their skill development during PBL activities.

Infusing PBL with edtech to enhance collaboration, critical thinking


Leveraging the right technology is one of the best ways to support students during project-based learning activities

Key points:

Project-based learning (PBL) helps prepare students for college and beyond by actively engaging them in meaningful, relevant projects. In many situations, students will work on these projects for weeks or months at a time, which helps them develop deeper content knowledge when attempting to answer complex questions and resolve real-world problems.

With advances in digital tools, many teachers are finding that using edtech tools in PBL enhances projects by providing direct access to greater sources of information and by allowing students to collaborate more easily. Some believe that leveraging the right technology is one of the best ways to support students during PBL activities.

Using technology, students can communicate and collaborate in so many new ways. Edtech tools also enable students to learn beyond the four walls of the classroom, providing them with so many more opportunities to enhance their critical thinking skills and understand real-world situations.

Collaboration in PBL

Collaboration is an essential element in PBL. In the real world, students will often be required to collaborate with others to achieve their personal and professional goals. It’s important to teach students the art of effective collaboration when using the PBL approach.

Some refer to this as supporting a project learning community (PLC). When students work together, they foster a shared sense of responsibility that better supports their achievement. With a PLC, students can learn how to listen better, they can learn how to be a team player and share in each other’s success, and they learn how to hold themselves and others accountable. These are all important skills to have when moving beyond the classroom and into the real world.

Edtech tools to enhance critical thinking and collaboration in PBL

The best way to support PLCs when using the PBL approach is to invest in the right classroom tools. This will help you maximize the effectiveness of the PBL method by enabling students to work better together in harmony.

Below are some edtech tools to use when engaging students in PBL:

PBL Project Designer

PBLWorks, one of the leaders in the development of high-quality project-based learning, has created a tool to assist teachers when planning PBL projects. The PBL Project Designer walks teachers through each step when designing a project, offering them tips, instructional ideas, and links to resources.

Collaboration Tools

Collaboration tools are perhaps the most important when utilizing PBL. These tools can significantly improve project outcomes by enhancing communication, critical thinking, and innovations. Some useful team collaboration tools include:

  • Asana
  • Slack
  • Wrike
  • Lucidspark
  • Microsoft Teams
  • InVision

These tools offer something unique, whether it’s helping with project management, communication, visual creation, or whiteboarding. These are some of the best tools available today and are already used by some of the top companies across various industries to help their teams collaborate. 

Google

The Google platform also offers numerous project-based learning tools that work well in the classroom setting when students are working together on projects. For example, Google Classroom can be used to create project materials. Google Docs and the Explore feature make it easy for students to create documents for their projects and easily cite their work.

In Google Sheets, the Explore feature can also be used to analyze data for projects using machine learning technology. Google Earth and Google MyMaps are great features to help students when they are working on projects where they need to explore geographical or even environmental data.

Google Meet is an excellent collaboration tool that allows students to easily connect through secure messaging and video conferencing.

Translating PBL into real-world solutions

Another benefit of using edtech in the classroom with PBL is that it can also inspire and enable students to turn their project experiences into real-world solutions, such as coming up with their own ideas for a tech startup.

With so much technology and innovation at the tip of their fingers, many students have gone on to develop their own startups. Some of the most successful technology companies began at home or in a garage, such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google.

Wrapping up

PBL is a powerful teaching method that can help better prepare students for their future. With so many new tools and technologies available today, there are countless ways teachers can enhance the PBL experience, fostering greater collaboration and critical thinking skills that will be vital to success once students move beyond the classroom.

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