Project-Based Learning, or Just a Project?

Projects are on the top of our minds right now as the NGL Research and Learning Design team creates quests built around design challenges and opportunities for original research and inquiry. One question I frequently ask is, are we supporting project-based learning or just projects? And, what’s the difference?

Whether you know the answer or not, a great resource for learning more about project-based learning is the Buck Institute of Education (BIE). BIE’s website includes a description of project-based learning and the essential project design elements, all of which are based on research. They also published an article that defines the difference between projects and project-based learning.

Projects run the risk of being tacked on at the end of a unit, kind of like dessert at the end of a meal.  In contrast, project-based learning is a rich experience that allows learners to learn and develop skills through completing a project. In project-based learning, the project is the main course and the core of the experience!  These are the kind of experiences we value at NGL and they’re incorporated into many NGL quests.

Looking for inspiration? Check out BIE’s resources page and search for projects.