Achieving Equity in Education through Project-Based Learning
The pandemic forced educational institutions to abruptly pivot from the classroom to an online approach within a matter of days, and the results have possibly changed the way society will view learning for the foreseeable future. JW was joined by Ron Stefanski, Executive director of sales and marketing for Centric Learning, to talk about project-based learning and its future in a blended educational system.
Ron kicked things off by talking about the differences between successful and unsuccessful online education programs. “One of the things you learn when you’re in my field is that there’s a simple demarcation between companies out there, and it’s those who have tools and resources and programs that work, and those that do not. And by ‘working,’ I mean engagement,” he said.
He then talked about Centric Learning’s online learning method of project-based learning. “Project-based learning starts students off with a driving question. What is the biological basis for why COVID is spread so quickly? And the implications for the student in answering that question, first and foremost, are going to cross the curriculum. So that answer may have, in part, features of it that are expressed in their biology course, some that are expressed in math, sciences, and in their writing as well. So project-based learning is a multi-curricular approach to learning, and it’s a shift of the paradigm where the teacher’s not lecturing and providing facts for the students to digest. They’re working as a guide on the side to support and assist and inspire curiosity out of their students.”
Ron then talked about how the future of eLearning in a post-pandemic world, and how a blended approach of classroom learning mixed with online education would allow for programs to be tailored to individual students. Instead of putting a kid in, say, 8th grade and teaching them 8th grade level material, blended learning would allow for the material to be at a level appropriate for where that student is at in their education.
Another benefit of blended learning is that all students could have access to the best education. “Zip code should not be a determinant of whether or not you get a high-quality education in this country,” said Ron.
Ron and JW then talked about their optimism for the future of online education. Ron said “By connecting a lot of people to eLearning, I think we’re creating a community of practitioners out there that are collaborating as never before.”