Project-Based Learning and STEM Education in Australia
During the K-12 Showcase: STEM Education and Project-Based Learning, Malyn Mawby and Nikki Shires, veteran department heads and teachers from Roseville College, share their experiences with recent innovation in STEM and their thoughts on STEM for years to come.
The event brought together industry leaders to discuss the state of STEM in education, in the lives of students and girls, and in the future in general as the field develops.
Delvene Neilson, Head of Client Success at ClickView, was joined by two veteran professors and STEM authorities from Roseville College in Sydney:
Malyn Mawby, Teacher and Director of Personal Learning
Nikki Shires, Director of Digital Technologies and STEAM Club Coordinator
EduGrowth’s STEM exhibit in March 2021 heard from these two experts on educational innovation in their field, particularly in light of the digital learning landscape kicked off by the Covid-19 pandemic.
These are the highlights of the discussion followed by the full transcript.
What is Project-Based Learning (PBL)?
Malyn Mawby presents project-based learning:
Project-based learning is a student-centered teaching framework that involves developing students’ knowledge or skills through projects rather than through rote memorization or teacher-led instruction. Project-based learning requires clear planning, including a starting point, an endpoint, explicit tools, processes, and skills.
He adds that, for successful project-based learning, a teacher must:
Plan, plan, plan. Planning backward from the end goal is one way to ensure that learning outcomes are achieved.
Aim for a public hearing. Highly attractive projects can be published on public platforms like GitHub, caught the eye of industry experts, and included in student portfolios.
“We know that when using digital technologies, plan A may not necessarily be enough, so always have a backup plan.”
Malyn Mawby, Roseville College
Nikki echoes the value of expanding project-based learning outside the classroom and into a public audience, adding that:
Displaying projects in the community strengthens students and builds their confidence.
Project-based learning gives students the opportunity to be leaders.
A single project can incorporate multiple disciplines and invite contributions from multiple experts.
Integrating PBL in the classroom
For teachers who are about to begin their first project-based learning in the classroom, Malyn offers two key points to consider:
Remember that projects are a learning tool, not an evaluation tool.
Project-based learning is also a relationship-building exercise.
“It takes a lot of relationship-building for them to trust you, for them to come out of all project-based learning successfully in the sense that they have built something, they have learned something.”
Malyn Mawby, Roseville College
Nikki Shires builds on these points and notes that:
Without an assessment hovering over their heads, students feel more free and open to engaging with material in projects.
Teachers can test project-based learning in extracurricular activities to learn about its uses in the classroom.
Nikki also recognizes the role relationships play in the learning process, noting that a strong relationship and parental acceptance improve student performance and engagement.
“Parents […] have trusted us as educators to take them on their learning journey. So it’s always about getting that buy-in and that investment with the students. “
Nikki Shires, Roseville College
Adapt project-based learning to digital learning
The conditions for e-learning are new to many teachers and students who have had to go online this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Nikki encourages us not to worry as:
Teaching technology and e-learning are adapted to project-based learning by involving a variety of skills and can easily link similar subjects, such as math and engineering, together.
And Malyn notes that:
Digital education technology lends itself to dividing projects into synchronous and asynchronous work quite naturally. Teachers can use this to their advantage.
Teaching technology, such as shared documentation space, collaboration rooms, and instant feedback, make collaboration.