Dr Page's Educational Tech Blog


Effective Learning Using Internally Motivated Real-World Projects

Author: Mark Botelho Posted: 2017-06-06

Teaching students skills in a manner that allows them to create or follow an ambition should be the focus of curriculum. The benefits to having students create works regarding their learning outside the classroom is that it gives them motivation to improve, and the added benefit of promoting themselves to schools and employers. It establishes a habit of positive use of social media which often times is not the focus they take. Giving them a positive use of social media is a non-direct benefit. Having students create projects outside the school is difficult for some subjects and content areas, but when it is a possibility we should encourage students to try.

An example of self motivated real world projects done outside of the school influence was my middle school broadcasting class. This is a class in where students create news segments which are then combined into a weekly school news broadcast. This is not revolutionary in itself and many schools already have a news broadcasting show that combines many different skills from core classes. The difference with my course is that I promote the class as a real world skill and encourage students to create news segments outside of school. The goal is not to coerce them but to have them find their own ambition. This could be creating a YouTube channel, a blog site, or creating art work to display in a local café.

Another example of students taking what they learn and applying it to real world projects involves students of my web development course. One of the students, Jeong-Bin Yeo, was approached by a fellow student asking them if they could create a specialized mathematical calculator to find matching prime number pairs. The other student, Dhruba Jyoti Paul, created a Random Classroom Group Selector for teachers (https://youtu.be/qNUJdABZlO0). Additionally, the student offered professional development workshops to demonstrate the use of the program. Both of these examples exemplify students taking the skills and understanding of what was taught to them and creatively creating a real-world project without someone telling them to do it. 

To truly show the potential success of a student, we shouldn't be looking at a diploma or list of grades which are not a perfect measure of a students potential in the real world. A better measure would be to gauge a real world example of their abilities. These examples should be projects that are independent of external motivators to be valid, otherwise they are no better than a orthogonal transcript. 

As teachers we should continually be encouraging our student to do real world projects that are not made only for the sole purpose of displaying at school. Our job is to give them the skills needed to create and then let them step into the real world to try and share their works. It may be the case that nobody sees what they make, but at least they are on the path to authentic learning. 

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