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Telepresence A Valuable Tool for Project-Based Learning

August 29, 2011
at 10:46 am PST
edutopia article on project based learning

www.edutopia.org

In school, you’re learning all about fish. Would you rather look at, hold, and examine an actual fish to determine its species or would you prefer to read a textbook about a bunch of different fish?

Sliminess factor aside, I’d vote for seeing the actual fish.

The students in science teacher Michelle Underwood’s class feel the same way:  They love the hands-on projects — fish study included — that Underwood has worked into her classroom, they said in a video. A self-described convert from “death-by-Powerpoint” lecture style teaching, Underwood now embraces collaborative project-based learning to increase the depth of her students’ understanding and ensure their sustained interest. She brings everything from animals, to computers, to video equipment into her classroom to facilitate engaging lessons.

According to the educators at Edutopia, George Lucas’s educational foundation, Underwood has the right idea. Project-based learning, as opposed to textbook-based work, helps students retain more material and better develop the ability to self-direct, said an article by the Edutopia staff. Hands-on activities provide students opportunities to experiment with technology and witness real-world connections to the information they encounter in the classroom, the article said.

Telepresence offers another great tool for project-based learning. For example, using telepresence, K-12 students participating in the KC3 Kids Creating Community Content International Contest are bringing pieces of their home communities and cultures to students in schools around the world. The students choose and research a certain aspect of their communities and prepare content using various technologies in alignment with their national curriculum standards. Then, via telepresence, they become the teachers, presenting their content and interacting in real time with students in other schools.

It is wonderful to see students like the KC3 participants learning first hand about their world and sharing their knowledge with peers both near and far. Imagine if Underwood’s class had a telepresence connection too — the things that they could share! Are students in your school doing innovative projects they would like to share with others? We’d love to hear more about the cutting-edge learning going on out there!

If you’re interested in learning more about the Kids Creating Community Contest website, KC3 is has couple free informational webinars coming up in September. Be sure to check them out!

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