Project Based Learning is the third essential pillar of WeLearn Academy because it makes learning come alive for WeLearn students. Our PBL guides and motivates our students to go Beyond Knowledge [link] by helping them apply the skills and knowledge they have acquired in our core online academic program and Future Skills courses to solve real global problems that they and their generation are facing now and in the future.
There has been a global trend that has seen conventional schools move toward including more project based learning into their curriculum. Why? Simply put, students learn and remember much more when applying new skills and knowledge to solve real world problems relevant to their world view. However, due to the structure of traditional subject matter, combined with the focus of conventional schools, implementing true project based learning has been extremely challenging for them. WeLearn’s flexible program and focus on multidisciplinary learning from the moment we were founded gives us the ability to provide Monster PBL – serious, multidisciplinary PBL – to all our students, blended or virtual.
We have two main types of PBL at WeLearn Academy. The first is our deep dive PBL, which we call Monster PBL, during which students explore a topic in great depth for three months (xx hours) and find solutions to very significant and relevant problems. These large format PBL modules are excellent additions to the students’ unique portfolio when applying to university. The student can follow one of our pre-chosen subjects, or choose their own subject which is fit into our intense and comprehensive PBL format.
Our Monster PBL is the PBL followed by all our full time students. It would be better described as Problem Based Learning because students will conduct an intensive 3-month / xx hour deep-dive investigation into the causes of and solutions to the world’s social, economic, and environmental problems, and then develop and present their solutions. Along the way, they will gather all existing information relative to the chosen issue, then conduct field research and interviews with the affected community, the private sectors, government agencies, or NGO’s, that may be directly involved in the problem they are trying to solve.
Many of our PBL modules are inspired by the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development. For example, our No Single Use Plastics PBL addressed goals 13, 14 and 15. Our Sustainable Cities PBL addresses goal No 11 and our next PBL will cover Goal 2, Zero Hunger.
We also have a Self-Directed version of our Monster PBL where students will choose the topic and in essence create their own PBL module, using our online template and mentors. While our template will guide them every step of the way, the student gets to decide which subjects to investigate further and which learning rabbit holes to dive down for further in-depth exploration. This is a perfect type of PBL for students who enjoy being in charge of their own learning.
Our Monster PBL and Self-Directed PBL are available as part of WeLearn Academy, Virtual WeLearn Academy, Weekends@WeLearn and our Online ECA program.
A second type of PBL is a more simplified version where each module lasts for one month and covers one key question.
Simplified PBL Version
Our Simplified PBL is a Common Core State Standards-aligned module that helps students develop essential skills by reinforcing reading comprehension, writing and communication of ideas with an authentic audience, collaboration using technology, and building empathy, curiosity, and respect.
Students are engaged in a learning community beyond the classroom to provide more meaningful opportunities for students to improve their reading comprehension. Teachers are able to help assess their students’ work and provide feedback through the dashboard.
Writing and Communication
Our simplified PBL helps learners to cultivate a motivation to write, while at the same time share their ideas with an authentic audience. By connecting students with a group of peers, learners have the opportunity to share their ideas in an interesting and fun way before a broader virtual group.
This is a great avenue for young learners to acquire digital citizenship skills. PBL will provide them with the knowledge needed to stay safe online and help protect others. This section covers topics such as managing their online reputations, protecting personal information, preventing cyberbullying, practicing empathy and international-mindedness, developing healthy online discussion habits, and searching effectively for authentic information.
Social and Emotional Learning
Our PBL learning platform allows students to engage in authentic social and emotional learning by allowing them to interact with peers from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and races. These global connections enable them to both learn and apply the following skills:
- Empathy: suspending one’s own assumptions about others to truly understand them
- Collaboration: working effectively with people from around the world
- Self-awareness: seeing yourself through the eyes of others
- Self-motivation: motivating themselves by engaging with other learners from around the world
- Social Engagement: practicing good digital social behavior
- Identifying Problems + Analyzing Situations: students spend more time identifying problems individually
- Ethical Responsibility: feeling a responsibility for making our world a better place
- International Mindset: learning about different cultures around the world
WHY WeLearn Project Based Learning (PBL)
- PBL engages students in deep understanding of content and lifelong learning
- Students learn by solving real-world problems
- Students cultivate critical future skills
- Students learn directly from experts and professionals in their fields
- Students become better decision-makers
- Learning becomes personally meaningful
- Students are inspired to love learning
- Learning is STEAM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math)
- The program is US Common Core Standards aligned
- The program features a fun, gamified learning approach
- Students receive certifications and awards
- Students build unique portfolios for applying to university
Relevant Future Skills
- Research Skills
- Case Study Analysis
- Field Research Skills
- Data Analysis
- Critical Thinking Skills
- Comprehensive Synthesis
- Entrepreneurial Mindset
- Design Thinking
- Solution Thinking
- Decision making
- Arts and Basic Engineering Skills
- Architectural blueprint design
- 3D design & modeling
- Creative design
- Media and Technology
- Digital media presentations
- Web designing and coding
- Coding and Robotics
- Other Soft Skills
- Event organization and logistics
- Professional presentation skills
- Communication skills
- Leadership and collaboration skills
- Other Hard Skills
- Various Sciences
- App development
- Web development
Gold Standard PBL
Our Gold Standard PBL framework requires a certain degree of rigor and in-depth learning to design a truly sustainable solution that is able to be critiqued and supported by experts. It is multi-disciplinary, covering multiple subject areas in every project, such as Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM), Robotics, History, Economics, and other social sciences.
Throughout the entire PBL program, students are able to develop social consciousness and relevant future skills, such as an entrepreneurial mindset, critical thinking and problem solving, leadership and collaboration, creativity, engineering, design thinking and the powerful use of technology to bring positive change to the world.