Have you ever heard of Project Based Learning (PBL)? Or, how much do you know about PBL? Before I went for my formal ESL training, I was trained to teach Mathematics (7-12 years old). I had a very good lecturer, who adopted collaborative learning. It was 1997 then. Coperative and collaborative learning are the in-thing. Malaysian learners (at secondary school level) were bound to KBSM, which essentially stressed the importance of learning together, with a lot of collaborative values, to learn how to be able to work with others in harmony, how to complement our weaknesses with other’s strengths.
I followed the collaborative pedagogy for 3 years, and I like the idea. Mainly because personally I never believe in one man show and that no man is an island. Besides, I think we are all social animals, we need to be connected, we need to talk to each other. However, managing learners in collaborative learning can be a mundane task. That is me speaking from experience. First of all, there will always be learners that do nothing. Worst still, group learning (be it coperative or collaborative) can be VERY boring if the objective and aim are not made clear to the learners.
Teaching can be a boring job, especially you are repeating what you teach year in year out. I am a person that gets bored easily. To counter this problem, I need to give my students different tasks, even though they are of different cohorts. This is because I can’t change the theme or the topics spelt out in the Curriculum Specification. The only way that I can figure out that time is to ask my students to do different projects.
For all the projects I involved my students with, I never realize that I am actually doing PBL, until I attended the Sarawak Zone Education Seminar in 2009. It was only then I came across this pedagogy. Coincidentally, in 2011, Intel is promoting PBL to K12 teachers. They dedicated a free online course on PBL. The online course is very comprehensive, providing theoretical knowledge of PBL and also the practical execution of such pedagogy in real classroom settings with the help of experienced PBL advocates.
Thus, like what Paul Otellini said, “…quality education is the foundation for opportunity and innovation”. After all, it is 21st century, and it is always good to learn something new.
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