Educators, the time is now — we need to make sure what goes on inside the classroom mirrors what goes on outside the classroom. Project-based learning (PBL) practitioners must meet the demands of the future world of work ahead, as employees are gaining greater flexibility on where and how they work, and with which tools. This dynamic shift requires that students cultivate deep skills in communication, collaboration, adaptability and higher order thinking for alternate career pathways of the 21st century.
Authentic project-based learning goes beyond “doing projects” of the past, where teachers present knowledge and assign a task to students for project completion. True project-based learning happens when students acquire knowledge through tackling a challenging problem that lasts weeks at a time, with considerable emphasis on student choice, autonomy, and process. The project is the exploration and may involve personal or collaborative efforts, feedback loops, advising, reflection and redrafting, simulating real-world workplace environments.
More and more schools are introducing alternative educational pathways that reach learning targets or state standards in adaptive ways, all to best prepare students for the inevitable employment disruption ahead. Inspired to further foster self-empowered learning, we at HEADRUSH are taking on the challenges of facilitating project-based learning from start to finish, and offer solutions to the queries schools encounter when considering implementation.
Here are five ways you can elevate your personalized, project-based and/or competency-based practice with HEADRUSH.
- Co-design your project work
Transforming a teacher-led classroom to a student-led classroom doesn’t happen overnight. So why not customize project leadership to best fit your community? Project-based learning can be co-designed by both teachers and students, just as projects in any workplace are often co-designed by employer and employee. Our software allows for flexible management of project work so that teacher-led, student-led or co-designed projects are easy to digitally develop and track. Even better, student achievement tracking is made asynchronous by HEADRUSH, which allows students to be in the driver’s seat of their own learning, while teachers serve as their supportive passengers. As students co-manage and co-track their own progress with their project advisors, they develop a genuine understanding of their own skill development and overall learning target achievement. By design, this allows the transition from a teacher-led to student-led classroom happen more naturally, and for each community to find the best balance when enabling deeper learning depending on their personal needs.
2) Digitally propose, manage, assess, store and renovate project work
The biggest challenge in implementing project-based learning school-wide is facing the management and tracking of projects to scale. Teachers are already busy, and simply do not have the time to manage each and every individual student project. With HEADRUSH, students can digitally manage their own projects with four easy steps. Step 1: Propose a project. Step 2: Manage and track Step 3: Complete and assess Step 4: Warehouse or renovate. With over 30 years of industry practice and knowledge built in, our project planning form is comprehensive and allows for effortless, collaborative management via movable task boards and visual to-do checklists. Project evidence, resources, and rubrics can be uploaded, shared and revised. After assessment and completion of personalized learning targets, students can warehouse their work for storage, opt to renovate projects or review their process portfolio to look back on their progress. Project-based management is game changing with next-level efficiency, even for the masses, allowing teachers more freedom to facilitate and advise, rather than manage.
3) Incorporate feedback loops for project advising
Elon Musk states, “It’s very important to have a feedback loop… that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.” Project-based practitioners know that feedback loops are an essential part of preparing students to be problem-solvers and critical thinkers in the 21st century. A teacher is considered an advisor, mentor, facilitator and coach in the project-based world, and HEADRUSH helps facilitate ongoing feedback loops between advisors and students. Advisors can digitally view their students’ project progress and leave personalized comments for review every step of the way. Whether it be during project proposal, evidence uploading or the assessment phase, these feedback loops allow for constructive reflection on project progress. As guidance is an integral part of common workplace practice, we facilitate peer review in our application as well, allowing other students to jump in and provide useful feedback alongside the advisors. As HEADRUSH was created by educators for educators, we offer remote project-based coaching for teachers. We know the only way to encourage students to pursue lifelong learning is to model it ourselves. So while teachers provide regular feedback to students, our coaches are available to provide helpful feedback to teachers. Students can send a direct message to our educational coaches for an additional feedback loop on their project work as well.
4) Customize learning outcomes or standards for automated report tracking
Project-based learning implementation is particularly daunting as it is often assumed to be difficult to quantify and report on. Educational leaders, administrators and teachers, the truth is, it doesn’t have to be. With the right software, schools can now choose their own customized learning outcomes or standards they expect their graduates to meet for matriculation. This human-centered approach allows schools to fuel personalization while remaining true to their individual missions or district wide initiatives. So whether you are bound to state standards, district learning targets or have your own personalized competencies, your school can generate automated student report tracking while maintaining the freedom to pursue authentic, student-driven learning. This customizable approach allows schools to remain accountable when quantifying student progress, and makes tracking both personal and collaborative projects user-friendly and timely.
5) Find your PBL people
While some schools are thriving in their project-based landscape and effectively fostering student-led learning, others still need buy-in from their community that project-based learning is scalable, manageable and easy to track. So why not find your PBL people? Despite the initial barrier teachers’ face in not having the time to oversee individualized projects at scale, schools everywhere continue to make the shift. HEADRUSH allows for schools to make this shift more fluidly as our affordable platform enables districts to track broad data for implementation at scale. This brings hope for the future as equitable access will lead to self-empowered learning among all students, rather than a privileged few.
As HEADRUSH is specifically designed for schools who emphasize empowering students to drive their own project-based learning, joining HEADRUSH also means you’re joining a community of like-minded educators. Future iterations of HEADRUSH will be aimed at making the HEADRUSH community some serious added value with ways of sharing projects, best practices and more. Stay tuned for more to come on that!
We are hustlin’ every day to develop the latest software to help manage personalized, project-based and competency based education as we believe this design approach will change the educational paradigm for the future of learning. With new challenges that lie ahead for our children in an ever-changing world, the time is now for us to come together in facilitating a radical shift in pedagogy. We can navigate the obstacles ahead when we are in it together.