Updated: November, 2015The Autodesk Foundation deserves credit for bringing Project-Based Learning (PBL) to the attention of educators across the country during the 1990s. Founded by Joe Oakey, former Commissioner of Education in Vermont and Micronesia and former manager of Autodesk, Inc.’s Education Department, the Foundation spread the word nationally about Project-Based Learning from 1992 until its close in 2000. The Foundation supported schools and practitioners through the Tinkertech network, and the Project-Based Learning Network, and through the annual Kids Who Know and Do conference.
While project-based learning rests on many antecedent practices, much of the practice in the 1990’s broke new ground by establishing real-world context, adult connections, student exhibitions and worldwide publication via the WWW, and authentic assessment. I had the pleasure of leading the Foundation after Joe retired in 1996. Working with a great team that included Elizabeth Share, Judy Morgan, Sanna Randolph, Laurette Rogers, Ross Kleinberg, Eric Skjei, Dan Trimble, and Dana Erickson, our small band served as the network organizer for PBL in the 1990s. Fortunately others have now taken up the torch, including the George Lucas Educational Foundation and the Buck Institute of Education (BIE).
This page highlights PBL resources to help you in your efforts to create great learning opportunities for kids.
November 19, 2015: Are
We Getting Smarter about Ed Tech?, by Suzie Boss, edutopia blog shows
role of pedagogy, particularly PBL, in leveraging technology for learning.
Also see articles by Bob Pearlman
on technology, PBL, and learning.
November 18, 2015: Updated Project Libraries Links includes Real Projects from the Innovation Unit (UK) and EL's Center for Student Work
October 6, 2015: Never Send a Human to do a Machines Job: Correcting the Top 5 Edtech Mistakes, by Yong Zhao, Washington Post, October 6. 2015. Also see new book of same name here by Yong Zhao, Gaoming Zhang, Jing Lei and Wei Qiu.
Featured PBL Video -- July 2014:
Also see each of the Five
Keys to Rigorous Project-Based Learning Videos
at Edutopia (Real-World Connections, Rigorous Projects, Collaboration,
Facilitating Learning, and Assessment). See other PBL videos here
and at BIE.
II. PBL Miscellany
III. PBL Archival Pages
I. Top PBL Links
Project-Based Learning Research Review, By Vanessa Vega, Edutopia, December 3, 2012
and Achievement in Problem-Based and Inquiry Learning: A Response to Kirschner,
Sweller, and Clark (2006), by Cindy E. Hmelo-Silver, Ravit Golan Duncan,
and Clark A. Chinn, Department of Educational Psychology, Rutgers University,
EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGIST, 42(2), 99107. This article is a response
to Paul A. Kirschner , John Sweller & Richard E. Clark (2006) Why
Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the
Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and
Inquiry-Based Teaching, Educational Psychologist, 41:2, 75-86. Kirschner,
Sweller & Clark reprised this critique in the AFT American Educator,
Spring, 2012, Putting
Students on the Path to Learning : The Case for Fully Guided Instruction.
Summers, E. J., & Dickinson, G. (2012). A longitudinal investigation of project based instruction and student achievement in high school social studies. The Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 6(1), 82-103.
Dickinson, G., & Summers, E. J. (2010). (Re)Anchored video centered engagement: The transferability of preservice training to practice. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 10(1).
Mathematics for the Moment, Or the Millennium?, By Jo Boaler, March 31, 1999. Stanford Professors Jo Boaler’s math studies in England are an example of the new research on PBL.
Challenge 2000 Multimedia Project. The final evaluation of this award-winning project yielded a significant finding when PBL students were tested on authentic projects in comparison to a control group.
A REVIEW OF RESEARCH ON PROJECT-BASED
LEARNING (PDF) By John W. Thomas, Ph. D, March, 2000
This review, commissioned by the Autodesk Foundation in its final year (2000), examines research related to a teaching and learning model popularly referred to as "Project-Based Learning" (PBL). All of the research on Project-Based Learning has taken place in the past ten years and most of it in just the last few years. Since there is not a large body of PBL research, the review is inclusive rather than selective.
The review covers eight topics:
- A definition of Project-Based Learning,
- Underpinnings of PBL research and practice,
- Evaluative research: research on the effectiveness of PBL,
- The role of student characteristics in PBL,
- Implementation research: challenges associated with enacting PBL,
- Intervention research: research on improving the effectiveness of PBL,
- Conclusions, and
- Future directions for PBL research.
Updated November, 2015
Real Projects, Innovation Unit, UK
The Buck Institute of Education's Project Search is now the best source on the web for project exemplars. It includes projects from numerous PBL sources including ConnectEd, Envision Schools, Expeditionary Learning, High Tech High, West Virginia DOE, and others.
BIE's Project Libraries Page (Archive Page) -- Links to online project libraries from the best PBL sources.
Knights of Knowledge (2013) -- PBL Pioneers David Thornburg, Norma Thornburg, and Sara Armstrong have produced a terrific set of video-based inquiry starters across the curriculum, what some of us call video entry documents for project-based learning.
Real Projects, Innovation Unit, UK
I am the moderator of a national email group of PBL leaders and practitioners. To join, fill in the box above or send a blank email to PBLnetfirstname.lastname@example.org or go to the web site at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PBLnet/..
- Resource List: Assessment in PBL from BIE
- New Book by James Bellanca: Enriched Learning Projects: A Practical Pathway to 21st Century Skills and Foreword by Bob Pearlman
Tools, Technologies, and Best Practices for PBL",
by Dan Page, THE Journal, March 2006
- Bob Pearlman on Project-Based Learning: Text of video interview by the George Lucas Educational Foundation.
- Project-Based Learning vs. Problem-Based Learning vs. X-BL, By John Larmer, Editor in Chief at the Buck Institute for Education, Edutopia Blog, January 6, 2014
- Best PBL Video—October Sky
- Remembering Dennis Selness, PBL Colleague and Friend
- Joe Oakey's PBL Odyssey
- Archive Autodesk Foundation Website (Internet Archive)
- PBL Math
- Unsung Hero Student Project Discovery Award from the Lowell Milken Center
These are pages I created when I launched this website circa 2002. It captures the best PBL resources available on the Internet at that time and should be a valuable resource for PBL history buffs. Some of these links are now inactive, but you can resurrect these resources through the Internet Archive (the Wayback Machine). - Bob, June 2014
See PBL curriculum and student work at Schools I Like such as Sir Francis Drake High School, Brookside Elementary School, San Jose Middle School, Mendocino, the North Coast Rural Challenge Network, and Napa New Technology High School.
Several schools host School-Based Institutes (SBIs), where visitors can learn about and see PBL in action. In the current year 2002, unfortunately, only Napa New Technology High School has scheduled an SBI.
Eight years after the World Wide Web was born and thousands of great student projects created and exhibited, can anyone see this great student work, or see it in a coherent and organized fashion? Unfortunately too few schools and organizations have captured this work on the WWW and made it available to their own publics and to the wider national and international publics. The Great Student Work web page is my attempt to share with you some of the best student work that you can see on the web. With your help this can be continually updated.