How to Implement Problem Based Learning with ICTs

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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.

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Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is a teacher trainer, instructional designer, adjunct professor, and the author of The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers: Small Steps to Transform Your Teaching and Learning to Go: Lesson Ideas for Teaching with Mobile Devices, Cell Phones and BYOT. She has been recognized by the ELTon Awards, The New York Times, the Ministry of Education in Spain, and Microsoft’s Heroes for Education as an innovator in the movement of teacher-driven professional development and education technology. Recently, she was named Woman of the Year 2014 by Star Jone’s National Association of Professional Women and awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, the Twitter chat that spurred over 400 teacher chats. She has trained teachers and taught learners in over 25 countries and has consulted with organizations worldwide such as UNESCO Bangkok, The European Union aPLaNet Project, Cultura Iglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, and VenTESOL. She shares regularly via, Twitter (@ShellTerrell), and Her greatest joy is being the mother of Rosco the pug.

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