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Simplify Project Based Learning With Biteslide

by Seb Hardman on February 17, 2013

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This digital slide book application can be a powerful companion to Project Based Learning efforts.

Introduction
In this article I shall give you a brief introduction to Project Based Learning (PBL) and show you how Biteslide can be used as an end-to-end technology solution for PBL projects.

There are a dizzying number of EdTech tools on the market today. Some are quite good and can give you a significant return on your time investment, others aren’t so good, and will lead to wasted time and frustrated students. Using an end-to-end solution simplifies the integration of technology and keeps the focus where it should be, on the project.

What is Project Based Learning?
Project Based Learning (PBL) is a dynamic approach to teaching where students undertake extensive inquiry in response to real-world problems and challenges.

In response to a driving question, students create authentic products and presentations that are then delivered to a public audience.

PBL projects are designed to address the curriculum and also develop students’ 21st century skills – creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking.

If you’re new to PBL, two of the best resources around are the Buck Institute For Education and Edutopia.

What is Biteslide?
Biteslide is a creative presentation tool for school projects.

Teachers use Biteslide to assign, manage, and give feedback on projects.  Students create slidebooks – a creative form of self-expression combining images, video, and text.

Biteslide works well across the curriculum and with students of all ages.

Now let’s see how Biteslide can be used used in each phase of a PBL project.

Planning the project
Good planning is the key to running a successful PBL project. If you’ve never planned a PBL project before, here is a good place to get to grips with the basics.

When planning your PBL project it’s a good idea to organise your planning into a series of project documents.  Commonly these are a project form, project calendar, and project rubric.  Thanks goes to Manor New Technology High School for sharing these excellent sample documents.

So, how can Biteslide help? Rather than having a static series of PDF documents stored on your school server, you can use Biteslide to create a slidebook of project documents.

This means your documents can be stored right within the project itself. They are accessible online, and can be easily copied into future projects.

Once the plans are in place and the project launch date has arrived, it’s time to introduce the project to your students.

The Entry Event
When introducing the new project to your students the aim is to activate their ‘Need To Know’. A simple handout just isn’t going to cut the mustard. Starting with inspirational and motivational content sets the tone and will energise your students.

A powerful way to activate your students’ need to know is to have an entry event. Entry events can be videos, discussions, or debates. Any format will work as long as it resonates with your students and makes them eager to learn more.

Slidebooks are a great tool to use at the heart of the entry event. During the planning phase of the project, use a slidebook to gather research and develop your entry event presentation. The slidebook format makes it easy for you to create a thought-provoking and interactive presentation as the centerpiece of the entry event.

And when your slidebook is ready, you can present straight from the slidebook to your students. You can do this from any computer or interactive whiteboard. Slidebook presentations save you time repurposing content and also provide an interactive forum for your students after the entry event has finished. They are the perfect catalyst to activate your students’ need to know.

Researching the project
Typically the initial phase of a PBL project will involve some form research.  It could be desk-based or out in the field. Students begin to develop their knowledge and gather the significant content for their project.

As part of this process, they’ll inevitably gather a wide range of assets that they’ll need to organise for use in their final presentation. These could be quotes, photos, videos, diagrams, and much more.

During the research phase, a slidebook is a brilliant way to scrapbook together images, videos, and text. Students can use their digital scrapbook to organise and re-organise their thoughts before putting together the final presentation.

Students can even collaborate on slidebooks and use them as a shared resource to gather and organise their research. And as Biteslide is entirely web-based, students can do this from anywhere they have an internet connection.

Biteslide has several simple, yet powerful, research tools built right into the slidebook. Students can drag and drop images straight from Google and Flickr, and even add videos from Youtube.  And if they want to gather images as they are browsing the web, they can use the Nibbler bookmarklet.

But to be honest, the best thing about researching a project with Biteslide is that it’s fun.  The drag-and-drop interface and easy-to-use tools take the strain so your students stay energised and can keep their focus where it should be, on the research.

Creating the project
Once students have gathered the resources they need to create their slidebook, it’s time to synthesise the research and create the project narrative.

Biteslide’s easy-to-use design tools mean that students all the way from K-12 can create stunning projects. Eye-catching extras (backgrounds, borders, and stickers) help students to bring their projects to life.

During the creative process, a project’s slidebooks are open for teachers and other students in the class to view. This means that teachers and classmates (if you’ve enabled the feature) can give feedback during the project creation phase.

Making projects authentic is fundamental to Project Based Learning. This means involving people from the outside world. Biteslide can be used to invite outside parties into the project to comment and review as the slidebooks progress. This is a great way for students to hone their final presentation with authentic input from the outside world.

Presenting the project
A key milestone in a PBL project is the final presentation.  As well as demonstrating what the students have learned and created, it provides focus and authenticity to the project.

Your students have used the slidebook to research, create, and now they can use it to present. A single button-click transforms the slidebook into presentation mode – an engaging showcase for your student’s work.

Presenting in person is undoubtedly valuable, but slidebooks can also be shared on the web.  Embedding slidebooks into blogs, websites, and virtual learning environments (e.g. Edmodo or Moodle) is an excellent way to share projects with both inside and outside the school walls. Other teachers and students as well as outside parties such as parents or industry experts can all be invited to view and give feedback on a project.

Conclusion
We are living through a golden age of technology. Incredible new web tools for educators are appearing every day. Having choice is a good thing, but it also comes with two key challenges. Choosing the tools that meet your pedagogical needs and deploying the tools your chosen tools in the best way.

There are no clear cut solutions to these challenges. Two good rules of thumb are to choose tools that are easy to use for both teachers and students, and keep the number of tools chosen to a minimum.  As is often the case, keeping it simple is the key to success.

Sign Up For Your Free Biteslide Account Here

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Add Voice Over to PowerPoint Presentations in 5 Easy Steps

Flipped Classroom Successes in Higher Education
10 Emerging Education and Instructional Technologies that all Educators Should Know About (2012)

About 

Seb Hardman is a EdTech entrepreneur passionate about making creative products. He is a founder of Biteslide – the creative presentation tool for school projects.

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