Inquiry Based Learning (IBL), Problem Based Learning (PBL), and Project Based Learning (PjBL) are all leaves of the same branch, student centered learning. As with many concepts in the classroom, they can be enhanced and transformed with the use of technology. Before expanding on the types of tools that may prove to be helpful in using these strategies, let’s differentiate them by addressing their foundational goals, teacher-student roles, and general outcomes.
At its foundation, Inquiry Based Learning (IBL) is gaining knowledge by asking questions. Prior knowledge is not required for success. Typically, the instructors give the learners all the information required to begin to cycle of inquiry. The outcomes of the Inquiry process can include; increased understanding of the content, thorough interpretation of findings, and the creation of new questions during the inquiry.
Problem Based Learning (PBL) aims to enhance self-directed problem-solving skills by answering meaningful, open ended problems, PBL can be the next step following IBL. Students are presented with the problem, they then use research and investigations to generate possible explanations or solutions. PBL is often described as hands on learning which can be an excellent strategy to elaborate on recent lessons. Generally, PBL does require some prior knowledge and scaffolding can be used to support the learner.
Similar to PBL, In Project Based Learning (PjBL) students are given a problem to solve, but they must also create a tangible product over an extended time period as evidence of their learning. Instructors take care to produce structured problems that will cause the students to face difficulty. In overcoming each hurdle, the students gain more knowledge into the content or processes involved. To create a product, students must work through the design process and present their project upon completion. For optimal success, students will need both prior content and skills knowledge.
WEB TOOLS TO USE IN IBL, PBL, AND PjBL
Below are curated lists of ed-tech tools that can be used in the IBL, PBL, and PjBL. To maximize the tool’s resourcefulness, I have highlighted the learning stages found in all three of the focused learning strategies. For each stage suggestions are provided to inspire the use of technology as a conduit of expression. My personal favorites are at the top of each list.
For the Teacher: Mind mapping and brainstorming tools are useful in crafting your discussion question or initial problems.
For the Students: In all of the learning strategies above, organizing information is a critical part of the process. The collection of understandings and thoughts could lead to an idea that may prove to be very helpful in PBL and PjBL. In IBL, mind mapping can help students develop their metacognition by providing space to dissect the featured question.
For the Teacher: The internet is loaded with ideas to kickstart and refine these learning strategies. You can use Social Bookmarking tools to help guide your student’s research and your lesson goals.
For the Students: Research is the cornerstone of IBL, PBL, and PjBL. Using technology to collect findings and organize them makes information easily assessable and therefore easily integrated into their learning or products.
For the Teacher: One of my favorite 21st Century Teaching techniques is collaboration. Teachers can use these tools in IBL, PBL, and PjBL to outline the learning and get feedback from the students in a fun and engaging ways.
For the Students: Using web tools for collaborating with others and presenting findings/products gives students experience with networking, and highlights the personal accomplishment of going through the learning cycle.
So tell me…
Can you envision your classroom buzzing (peacefully) with excitement about IBL, PBL, and PjBL with these fancy web tools? You can start the technology integration by focusing on one part of the learning cycle in whichever learning strategy you’re using. A small start can encourage a big finish. So let’s go!
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