Online Professional Development for Project Based Learning: Pathways to Systematic Improvement

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Conference Proceeding

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This paper describes efforts to increase the prevalence, rigor and relevance of Project Based Learning in US schools and internationally. Under a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE), US Department of Education, the Buck Institute for Education and partners are offering: 1) an online staff development resource, 2) modules for use in teacher training institutions, 3) a re-usable online 3- credit course, and 4) a way to share projects, collaborate on research, and advance understanding of effective use of projects in the classroom. The PBL-Online web site will offer a multi-pathway, interactive, video rich website designed to prepare pre-service and practicing teachers to implement academically rigorous, standards-focused Project Based Learning (PBL). The online materials are based on the BIE Project Based Learning Handbook that provides teachers with in-depth, systematic instruction in the planning, implementation and assessment of standards-focused PBL. Our work with the Handbook was recently highlighted as a key resource for proponents of small school reform in an evaluation of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation National School District and Network Grants Program conducted by the American Institutes for Research with SRI International on page 65 of the report ( Making this Handbook available online and offering online instruction in its use will support wider use and study of this promising but often either underutilized or misunderstood approach.

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