How to Implement Problem Based Learning with ICTs

Screen Shot 2013-11-08 at 11.24.16 AM

Part of the Effective Technology Integration Category

“All kids need is a little help, a little hope and somebody who believes in them.” -Earvin Magic Johnson

Kids and teens worldwide are currently using social media and ICTs to become heroes and solve real world problems. You can read about a few in this post, 10+ Kids Transforming the World Through Social Media. At the Bammy’s, I was privileged to meet one extraordinary 13 year-0ld, Mallory Fundora, who founded, an organization that provides food, medicine and education to women and children in Uganda. She raises awareness and gains support through social networks and web tools like Twitter, Facebook, a blog, and Youtube.

We have the opportunity to implement problem based learning and teach our learners how to use web tools and social media to solve real world problems. It’s learning that shows results in a meaningful way. The Prezi below shows the general parts of a problem based learning project that integrates ICT! Just click within the presentation to visit that resource or example.

Overview of the PBL Process

These are 4 basic parts of a PBL lesson with ICTs. I have highlighted these steps using Valerie Burton’s lesson, Teen Advocates Fight Against the Drop-Out Rate.

  1. Problem
    1. Introduce the problem
      1. Make it a powerful story that engages them or strikes an emotional chord.
      2. Ways to introduce the problem- through a blog post, show a video, take them through a case study, analyze an infographic, or have them play an online game or simulation. Valerie introduces the problem on her blog. In addition, students play a game at to learn about the drop-out rate.
      3. At this point, give students their mission with guidelines. Valerie’s mission is, “Create a website that hosts videos, blog posts, comics, PSAs, etc. to help decrease the dropout rate at our high school.” Keep it short and simple so students understand the task. You can include the solution product or leave that open and allow them to decide how to solve the problem. Most teachers will have a solution in mind, such as develop a safety poster or create a PSA.
    2. Give students time to reflect on the problem in pairs or groups. Find a variety of brainstorming tools here,
  2. Problem Research
    1. Options- Interviews, surveys, wikipedia, web quests
    2. Various online tools-
    3. Teach digital literacy, evaluation of online resources, bookmarking, curation, and annotation
  3. Solution
    1. You can give them the solution and guidelines when you introduce the problem. Examples may include, create a digital campaign or poster, make a Public Service Announcement (PSA), create an online game, create an ebook, organize an online project, create an advertisement, make a video, develop a product, design an app, host an event, create an infographic, or create a social network! Alternatively, you can give them a list of solutions to choose from like Valerie did.
    2. Generating solutions- in pairs/groups, students brainstorm possible solutions and the steps involved in implementing the solution
    3. Implementation
  4. Presentation
    1. Students present the solution, reflect on the process of implementing the solution, and discuss it’s impact
    2. Find various online presentation tools listed here,

This presentation was 1 of 6 sessions I gave at the #GAETC13 conference, which was held in beautiful Atlanta, Georgia. The resources for all 6 sessions are here, I tried collaborative note-taking with the audience on one Google Doc. Access those notes here, Thank you to Javaye Stubbs, Aaryn Schmihl @aschmuhl, Penny Christensen, @pen63, Kristen Drake, Margaret @MGGunter, Amy Sutton, @daniellesherfey, Marisa Wesker @WeskerTeach, Jessica Burce @jessica_burce, Tracy Sayer, Robin, @jandrwalters, Danielle @daniellesherfey, Alicia Coffie, Ambe Olinga @AJOlinga, Andy Pike @ANDYPIKE4, Michelle Easley @measleyfcs, @roamy82, Mike Vigilant @mikevigilant and others who helped with the collaborative note-taking experience.


Use one of these resources or ideas and share with me how the experience went with your learners.

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to subscribe for FREE to receive regular updates!

Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) is an award winning digital innovator, an international speaker/consultant, and the author of Hacking Digital Learning with EdTech Missions, The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, and Learning to Go. She has trained teachers and taught English language learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert by organizations, like the US Embassy, UNESCO Bangkok, Cultura Inglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, ISTEK Turkey, and Venezuela TESOL. She has been recognized by several organizations and publications as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development as the founder and organizer of various online conferences, Twitter chats, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Two of the projects she co-organized were shortlisted for ELTons, #ELTChat and the Virtual Round Table Language and Technology online conference. She was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the 10 Most Influential People in EdTech by Tech & Learning. Her greatest joy is being the mother of baby Savannah and Rosco the pug. Shelly has an Honors BA in English with a Minor in Communication and a specialization in Electronic Media from UTSA, a Masters in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix, and a CELTA from CELT Athens. She regularly shares her tips for effective technology integration via Twitter (@ShellTerrell),, and on her blog,, which has won several awards and recognitions as one of the top ESL, Edtech and Elearning blogs. Find over 400 of her slide presentations at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *