Posts Tagged ‘based’

Project Based Learning

Posted: April 24, 2013 in e-learning
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Project-based learning is a comprehensive approach to classroom teaching and learning that is designed to engage students in investigation of authentic problems.

Project-based learning is an instructional method that provides students with complex tasks based on challenging questions or problems that involve the students’ problem solving, decision making, investigative skills, and reflection that includes teacher facilitation, but not direction.

The teacher plays the role of facilitator, working with students to frame worthwhile questions, structuring meaningful tasks, coaching both knowledge development and social skills, and carefully assessing what students have learned from the experience.

Comprehensive Project-based Learning:

  • is organized around an open-ended driving question or challenge.
  • creates a need to know essential content and skills.
  • requires inquiry to learn and/or create something new.
  • requires critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and various forms of communication, often known as “21st Century Skills.”
  • allows some degree of student voice and choice.
  • incorporates feedback and revision.
  • results in a publicly presented product or performance

PBL is identified as being constructivist. Students work together to accomplish specific goals.

Technology makes it possible for students to think actively about the choices they make and execute.

Instructors must structure the proposed question/issue so as to direct the student’s learning toward content-based materials.

Once the project is finished, the instructor provides the students with feedback that will help them strengthen their skills for their next project.


Game Based Learning.

Game or simulation based learning continues to grow in popularity in the field of learning attracting many advocates and also many detractors.

A general definition for games based learning or “gamification” is,

the use of game-thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts in order to engage users and solve problems… used in applications and processes to improve user engagement…and learning.

(Wikipedia, 2012)

Simulations and gamification lends itself well to the study of earth science and geography, opening up scenarios and simulations that could not be carried out within a classroom situation or indeed many situations.

One such game is the recently developed FloodSim ( This game puts the player in charge of all decisions relating to flood policy in the UK. The game was developed between Norwich Union and PlayGen to raise awareness of flooding issues.

The delivery of this activity is part of AQA AS Geography Management of Rivers and Floodings. Students are required to write a piece of extended prose in their exam, often expressing the cost benefits of river management schemes. The simulation/game allows the students to try a variety of management options with their relative success given as a formative feedback at the conclusion of the game. This can be completed individually, but also allows for collaborative learning, group feedback and discussion ie what went well, what didn’t work.

There are elements of scaffolding involved, knowledge and understanding, analysis of data, evaluation and elements of creativity.

Figure 1 Screen Shot FloodSim

Learning Theories and design implication

In (Mayes & de Freitas, 2004)the authors identify the psychology behind learning theory and conclude that there are three distinct areas involved with learning theory, these being:-

Associationist /empiricist Learning as activity)

Including :-



Cognitive (learning by achieving understanding)


Attention, memory concept of constructivism (understanding through activity)

Situative (Learning as social)

Social perspective, focusing on way knowledge is distributed socially.

The design implications of the learning theories are indicated in the following

adapted from Mayes and Defraitas (2004)

Adapted from Mayes and Defraitas (2004)

Figure 2

Basic summary of the FloodSim game and associated learning theory.

  1. Goals and Objectives stated.
  2. Interactive, access via audio, visual, and text with avatar led instructions.
  3. Avatar led tutorial simple and easy to understand.
  4. Click and progress, some linear element, options available to skip introduction after playing once.
  5. Turn based, each turn representing 1 year, involves decision making.
  6. Avatars are gender and racially diverse.
  7. Decision choices are met with formative constructive feedback.
  8. Summative conclusion feedback.

The FloodSim games would seem to encompass many elements of learning theories, for example the associative view is clearly identified by the inclusion of clear goals and feedback, and the use of individualised pathways.

The cognitive view is very much a key part of FloodSim, with interactive environments, TLAs that encourage experimentation (i.e. the decision making process) and the support given for reflection at the end of each game turn, thus also encompassing a constructivism sense of learning.

However it seems that the third element of situative view is lacking in the FloodSim game. For example the environment of social practice and enquiry is not built into the game, but elements of this could be included by the teacher/facilitator.


Although FloodSim is a relatively simple gamification of a decision making exercise it can be said that it does cover the key elements of learning theory and design. In my view it also enables the use of experiential learning, and as Merrill suggests the most effective learning environments have problem solving as their basis”.

References and Bibliography

Corcoran, E., 2010. The ‘Gamification’ Of Education. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 28th December 2012].

Mayes, T. & de Freitas, S., 2004. Stage 2: Review of e-learning theories, framework and models.. [Online]
Available at: Stage 2: Review of e-learning theories, framework and models.
[Accessed 28 December 2012].

Merrill, D. M., 2001. Utah State University. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 28th December 2012].

Reeve, C., 2012. Play With Learning. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 28th December 2012].

Wikipedia, 2012. Gamification. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 28 12 2012].