Project Based Learning and Your Online Tutoring Sessions

 "Are you taking advantage of project based learning principles (PBL)?"

If you are looking to improve your online tutoring sessions then PBL could help.

Let's look at why I suggest you reconsider and find a way to incorporate it.

What is project based learning (PBL)?

Initially introduced by John Dewey, as the concept of "learning by doing", PBL moves away from traditional forms of learning (memorization, teacher centered classes and focusing on reading information) and promotes active participation by students to solve problems.

Project-based learning (PBL) is:

"...knowing and doing. Students learn knowledge and elements of the core curriculum, but also apply what they know to solve authentic problems and produce results that matter.

PBL students take advantage of digital tools to produce high quality, collaborative products. PBL refocuses education on the student, not the curriculum--a shift mandated by the global world, which rewards intangible assets such as drive, passion, creativity, empathy, and resiliency.

These cannot be taught out of a textbook, but must be activated through experience." 

-Markham, T. (2011). Project Based Learning. Teacher Librarian, 39(2), 38-42.

Let's take a more visual approach and see what PBL is all about.

Why should you consider PBL?

Project based learning focuses on real-world or hands on learning.  If you incorporate the principles of PBL into your tutoring sessions you will see several benefits:

  1. Your students will enjoy your classes and want more of them. (Great for your business!)  Rather than more "lectures" your classes will be seen as a "playground" where students can practice, test and explore the concepts they are learning.
  2. Your classes will help them develop critical thinking skills´╗┐cooperative learning
  3. Promotes understanding.
  4. Learn skills to help them after graduation.  With the help of PBL you will be fostering skills that every adult needs in order to succeed in their careers.

How to Apply PBL to Your Online Tutoring Classes?

Using PBL has its limitations for some subjects.  

Math, for example, does not lend well to PBL as math is primarily skill-based which requires a great deal of practice.

Here are three ways you can bring PBL online.

  • Focus on engaging your students, rather than lecturing them.  They probably already had the concepts explained to them, by their teacher, so it is your job to take the material and bring it to life.
  • Incorporate a long-term project that your student can work on over time in addition to your classes.  This project would incorporate the new concepts you are working on in your classes. (Eg.  You could get your student to create screen cast tutorial videos after each session  where THEY become the tutor and must explain the concepts to others).
  • Incorporate real like situations and problems into your sessions so that the material they are learning becomes useful and fits into the bigger picture of life.

Here is another short video that highlights PBL in the classroom.

When it comes to tutoring online, there are many things to consider.   You need to decide if you want to teach for a company or start your own online tutoring business.

In either case, project based learning isn't the only teaching strategy out there.  Check out this article to learn some of the best teaching strategies out there.

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