Buzz in Practice

Project-based learning (PBL) with Agilix Buzz

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Ryan Richins
  • Agilix team member

Buzz facilitates effective and manageable project-based learning (PBL) endeavors of varied scope and complexity

Project-based learning (PBL) is a student-centered learning model in which students collaborate to solve authentic, complex problems using 21st century skills (e.g., critical thinking, research, global and environmental awareness, creativity).

True PBL:

  • Empowers students to have a voice and choice in how projects progress.
  • Incorporates organic exploration of required, cross-disciplinary subject matter.
  • Asks participants to work toward producing a shareable product, requiring critique, reflection, and revision along the way.
What is catalytic learning? It's what happens when students take control of their own success.

Buzz supports PBL

PBL offers great opportunities to prepare students for success in today's world, but it can be difficult for teachers to integrate PBL with more traditional elements of education. With PBL, grading can seem less straightforward, groups and schedules can be difficult to manage, and its cross-disciplinary nature can require more extensive teacher collaboration.

Unlike a traditional LMS that is focused on linear learning models, Buzz includes several features that are fine-tuned to support and enhance PBL, easing these logistical strains and letting teachers focus on ensuring students get the most from their PBL experience. Review some of these features below.

Buzz Groups makes group work dynamic and easy to manage

With Buzz, there's no reason you can't ensure the fair, agile, and efficient group manangement that good PBL requires, while still giving students the personalized attention they need.

Buzz lets you easily divide your classes into multiple group sets. Once you've created groups, you can send group messages, assign group activities, create quick intervention tasks for them, assign group grades, award group badges, and filter your list views with them.

Project-based learning activity templates bring the necessary components together

PBL activities are necessarily more complicated than traditional activities, but building them with Buzz isn't.

The project template, just one of many activity templates that Buzz provides for content creation, let's you create a project; assign project groups; and integrate critique, collaboration, and reflection activities like Discussions, Blogs, Wikis, and Journals.

Student choice activities give students the freedom to learn

In PBL, students must have a voice and choice in the direction of their projects and education.

Choice activities in Buzz enable students to review a teacher-curated selection of activities and choose to complete the ones that best align with their personal interests and goals.

In order to provide varying degrees of facilitation, teachers are able to specify:

  • How many activities a student must complete.
  • The group of activities from which students can select activities.
  • Whether students can choose activities from other open educational resources (OER) libraries.
  • Whether students can complete more than the required number of activities.

Self-assigned activities encourage exploration and accountability

Students can create and self-assign activities that are integrated into their calendars. Creating and completing self-assigned tasks helps students manage their time and direct their own learning path, some of the key 21st century skills PBL champions.

The Digital Library expands exposure

Expand and diversify your course content by accessing various online resources in the Digital Library. These can include other teachers and courses within your district or organization, as well as open educational resources (OER) from sources like OpenEd and Khan Academy.

Buzz's Clipboard facilitates powerful, immediate, and personalized intervention

Use the Clipboard to quickly provide personalized attention to individuals and/or groups of students. It is always available in the toolbar and you can assign activities, award badges, assign tasks, and message students quickly and easily based on their needs.

This is an easy way to provide intervention and direction on the fly, which is perfect for the constructive and iterative nature of PBL. You can even sit with a group, discuss what they want to accomplish, and develop next steps and tasks right in Buzz with them.

Who's doing work in PBL?

At Buzz, we are excited about facilitating PBL in a personalized learning environment. Here are some organizations and thinkers that are doing exciting things with PBL:

  • The Buck Institue: "At the Buck Institute for Education (BIE), our highest priority is to help teachers prepare students for successful lives. We do this by showing teachers how to use Project Based Learning in all grade levels and subject areas."
  • New Tech Network (NTN): "The New Tech design provides an instructional approach centered on project-based learning, a culture that empowers students and teachers, and integrated technology in the classroom."
  • Edutopia: "We are focused on practices and programs that help students acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, skills and beliefs to achieve their full potential."

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