20 Examples of Project-Based Learning

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20 Examples of Project-Based Learning

As the name implies, project-based learning is simply learning through projects. What is being learned and how that learning is being measured isn’t strictly dictated by the project and any products or artifacts within that project. Rather, the reverse should be true: the desired learning objectives should help dictate the products and artifacts within the project.

With that in mind, here are 20 examples of project-based learning in a modern world with resources and technology available in most communities.

  1. Planning a garden that meets specific design objectives, then plant and tend the garden. At the end of the growing season, iterate the design to improve it for the next season based on how the garden was or was not successful in meeting the objectives.
  2. Launching a recycling program that solves an identified problem with existing recycling programs. This can be done at a household-level, school-level, neighborhood-level, or city-level.
  3. Analyzing the five most popular social media platforms for teens, then predict and design a new platform based on existing trends and past trajectory of change.
  4. Creating ‘visibility’ for something beautiful, useful, or otherwise deserving of attention that currently is under-appreciated (e.g., music, parks, people, acts of kindness, effort, movies, nature, etc.)
  5. Mashing three existing video games together (i.e., the core ideas in those games) to create a new game. Obviously this wouldn’t be done digitally but through annotated planning and ‘blueprint’ design.
  6. Solving the problem of negative and/or ‘fake news.’
  7. Designing a new form of government (or democracy, specifically) that addresses some perceived shortcoming of existing democratic forms (partisanship, non-functioning checks-and-balances, etc.).
  8. Helping local businesses increase environmental sustainability (e.g., reduce waste).
  9. Creating an interactive family tree with voice-overs from living family members.
  10. Documenting the ‘important’ stories from your family (immediate or extended), focusing on older generations first. Help your family tell their story by telling all of their individual stories, then come up with a way to ‘publish’ that story (likely only sharing it with the family itself).
  11. Inventorying the world’s most compelling ideas in an elegant and browsable interface.
  12. Imagining a dating app in 2050 considering anticipated shifts in technology (e.g., biotechnology) and social norms (e.g., gender, sexuality, class, etc.).
  13. Identifying, analyzing, and visualizing recurring themes in human history; then contextualize those themes in modern society.
  14. Choosing an issue you claim to be ‘important’ to you, then somehow addressing or supporting that issue with real-world work. Afterwards, documenting the learning process and what you learned and how that might change your approach next time.
  15. With current trends in climate change in mind, one example of project-based learning might be to design a modern city for the year 2100 (clean-sheet design), or re-imagine existing cities and how they might cope with climate change.
  16. Capturing, documenting, and sharing the wisdom of people living in nursing homes. Alternative: Interpreting very narrow and specific expertise for real-world application. For example, take knowledge of robotics or astrophysics or agriculture or music or theater, then somehow ‘apply’ that expertise in an authentic and real-world setting.
  17. Dissecting the ‘anatomy’ of viral web content, memes, or social media arguments.
  18. Launching a profitable business with actual documentation of real-world business metrics: profit, loss, cost control, etc. (depending on the nature of the product, service, or platform).
  19. Artfully illustrating the global history of human/civil rights for the last 2000 years in one image, visual, or artifact.
  20. Creating a photo documentary, then turning that into a film documentary, then turning that into a series of short social media videos.

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