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What are the DISadvantages of using PBL+MM?

What are the (DIS)advantages of using PBL+MM? Project Based Learning with Multimedia can be a powerful learning experience for students. What does it look like in the classroom? For many teachers, PBL+MM offers new opportunities for students to access content through hands-on investigation. Look at the website on PBL+MM. What DISadvantages do you see in the use of PBL+MM in the classroom? It is important to identify where the problems might be and what might prevent teachers from implementing PBL+MM in their classroom. http://pblmm.k12.ca.us/

Laura Z. Newman

Hi Nancy,

Great website you referred. The disadvantages are in two ares, in my opinion. The first area is resources. The Challenge 2000 project was able to raise 12 million dollars to implement PBL+MM to include teacher training, etc. Being located in the Silicon Valley most likely attributed to the large giving. The second area which comes to mind, which would prevent teachers from implementing PBL+MM classrooms, is the technology component and support with the technology. So often technology grants are awarded without sustainability. However, having said that, I am a huge proponent of PBL+MM classrooms and when I become a principal (within 6 months) I plan to implement PBL/Inquiry based classrooms by providing teacher training and support. Leadership can turn the disadvantages to advantages!! Great question - I am interested in what others have to say.

[ report as inappropriate ] August 8, 2006, 12:00 am


Nancy Wallace

Sustainability...this has always been an issue regardless of the educational reform. Leadership is essential. What would leadership need to provide to give teachers the time and resources to develop effective PBL+MM environments in their classroom? What would the experience for the teacher look like that would sustain their commitment to PBL+MM?

[ report as inappropriate ] August 11, 2006, 12:00 am


Sylvia Martinez

Hi everybody,
Nancy is right, leadership is key, not just teachers though. By giving students a voice in how the school uses technology, that creates more evangelism about technology. It's just too hard to leave it all up to the teachers to create every bit of of the impetus and drive to continue.

GenYES and Challenge 2000 were the only two education technology programs named exemplary by the DOE panel of experts in 2001. I think the reason they did get that distinction was because of the student involvement. We always talk about including all stakeholders, but so many times we leave out the kids...

[ report as inappropriate ] September 8, 2006, 12:00 am


Nancy Wallace

Sylvia,
Great point. I have seen it happen time after time. Whatever the expectation of the teacher is around a technology project, kids always take it to a higher level. It is about letting go....

[ report as inappropriate ] September 11, 2006, 12:00 am


Laura Z. Newman

Sylvia ~ I agree with you that we leave the kids out too often in the learning process. Education is so much more enjoyable and relevant when you involve the kids and allow them to make decisions about their learning because so often students are only learning the parts to a whole. Student directed learning is a powerful approach to learning ~ Laura

[ report as inappropriate ] September 16, 2006, 12:00 am


Nancy Wallace

After implementing PBL+MM at the middle school over a three year period of time, I spoke with teachers and administrators about the adv vs. disadv of PBL+MM. All of my informants (teachers and administrators) agreed that the learning in the classroom was more engaging. Student learning went much deeper into a subject, more cognitive skills were developed, and more ownership in their individual learning. However, without exception, all of these informants were concerned with the issue around time, covering the curriculum standards, and test results. At the end of the three year project, teachers and administrators agreed that test scores would impact class instruction. As one teacher put it, "PBL+MM takes more class time and my test scores must improve. My principal is not going to ask me how many PBL+MM projects I did, she/he will want to know what I did to cover all the grade level standards." This comes from one of those Lake Wobegon schools were the kids are all above average. As the school leader, how would you address these concerns?

[ report as inappropriate ] August 16, 2006, 12:00 am


Laura Z. Newman

Nancy - good question! During my principal internship, I observed a 5th grade teacher who implemented PBL +MM with extrodinary success. His students had over the top test scores within just the one year. Here was the problem. The administrator wanted the other two fifth grade teachers to implement PBL +MM, but they were resistant to change in spite of the fact they knew their student's test scores were abysmal compared to the PBL +MM fifth grade teacher. These two teachers feared (as you alluded to) taking up too much time to do projects and even taking the risk of going LOWER in their test scores. It was quite astounding to me the difference between the students in each class too. Between the three fifth-grade classrooms, the PBL+MM students were so much more independent, mature and enthusiastic. As a leader I would spend time establishing trusting relationships with the two non-tech teachers and gradually introduce them to PBL+MM via confernces or workshops or onsite training and supporting them with the test score results - validating that they may see a blip downward before upward in scores. I would also involve the other grade level teachers to help get the momentum rolling which is what is happening at the school now. But I found this fact interesting; the most requested teacher is the one with the lowest test scores. My hypothesis is because she reminds parents of their own education (some 30-40 years ago) - very traditional, lots of handwritting assignments, worksheets, quiet classrooms, students love but fear the teacher. Go figure.

[ report as inappropriate ] August 18, 2006, 12:00 am


Nancy Wallace

Site leadership, IMHO, is essential in the classroom use of technology. The fact that the most requested teacher is the one with the lowest test scores and relies on traditional instruction may reflect more about the parents. Traditional instruction is something parents seem to understand, despite how cartesian it is. When teachers break out of those traditional models, it is essential to provide good communication to the parents. For the most part, I have found that students are great ambassadors for PBL+MM learning. However, sharing with the parents the adventures in learning that go beyond the curriculum will go a long way in selling PBL+MM to parents and reluctant teachers. It is curious how these parents seem uninterested in test scores? On the same topic, we have seen student scores improve where PBL+MM has become an integrated part of the classroom learning environment.

[ report as inappropriate ] August 21, 2006, 12:00 am


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