TechnoKids Computer Curriculum is a set of technology projects for teachers of grades K-12. TechnoKids lesson plans and resources are used to integrate technology into curriculum in conjunction with teaching computer learning outcomes. The computer curriculum is divided into categories: Primary, Junior, Intermediate, and Senior.
TechnoKids uses a Project Based Learning instructional approach. Project based learning is an instructional approach that poses challenging questions or presents real-world problems that are personally meaningful to students, and has them investigate these issues and propose viable solutions.
Project based learning is not new. As long ago as the early 1900’s, John Dewey supported the use of projects to have students construct their knowledge. Educators for years have been designing activities that have students select a topic of interest, formulate questions about the topic, research information, and then present their findings in original ways such as a presentation, report, or poster. Educators call this type of assignment a project.
Using a project-learning approach can invigorate the learning environment, empowering and engaging students as they explore authentic, real-world challenges.
In recent years, project based learning has become an important instructional approach because it includes many components that are believed to promote learning. These include:
Interdisciplinary: Interdisciplinary studies combine two or more academic subject areas. Projects are interdisciplinary because they combine knowledge and skills from multiple subject areas such as language arts, mathematics, science, geography, history, visual arts, and social studies. This is also called a cross-curricular approach.
Collaboration: Collaboration is a process where two or more people work together to reach a common goal. Projects often require collaboration between the student and teacher or the student and their peers. Students work with others to generate an idea, plan the process, manage the timeline, organize ideas, create the original work, and share the results. Cooperative learning emphasizes team building and communication skills. Collaborative group work is often used in project based learning.
Inquiry: Inquiry is the search for knowledge or truth by asking questions, examining facts, and synthesizing the information. Projects often include an investigation into a problem to discover viable solutions with the search guided by a series of questions.
Motivational: Motivation is the incentive to act. Projects are often motivational to students because they are personally meaningful. During a project, students are actively engaged in the learning process, by selecting a topic of personal interest, picking the type of finished product, or contributing to the assessment of completed work. This encourages them to become involved in learning.
Self Directed Learning: Self directed learning occurs when the student is able to independently undertake a task and make judgments without the direction of a teacher. During a project, the teacher often assumes the role of a facilitator. The teacher will help students gain an understanding of the assignment including the learning objectives, timeline, and criteria. Afterwards the students, within the given framework, will select a topic of interest, plan and organize their ideas, and carry out the assignment with the teacher guiding the process.
Learning Style: A learning style is how a person comprehends, expresses, and remembers information to gain knowledge or develop skills. A learning style may be auditory, meaning learning occurs by hearing; visual, meaning learning occurs by seeing; or kinesthetic, meaning learning occurs by doing. Projects allow students to choose learning styles that are the most effective.
Critical Thinking: Critical thinking is the purposeful interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and synthesis of information used to make rational judgments or decisions. Projects often require students to engage in higher-order thinking skills.
Creative Thinking: Creative thinking is the deliberate stimulation of the imagination to generate the creation of original or innovative ideas, insights, processes, solutions, concepts, experiences, or objects. Projects often require students to engage in creative thinking.
Technology Integration:Technology integration is the blending of computer-related learning activities into curriculum to have students acquire, organize, demonstrate, and communicate information. Projects offer an opportunity to integrate the use of technology.
Project based learning is an instructional approach that lends itself easily to the creation of projects. A project is an open-ended assignment that uses technology to create a unique product that is student-driven with the goal of achieving specific learning objectives from multiple subject areas. Throughout the learning process, technology is used to acquire, organize, demonstrate, and communicate information. The seamless integration of technology into each stage of the project creates a meaningful learning experience.
Project Based Learning is a unique approach to teaching technology skills. In many classrooms, students learn how to use the computer by completing lessons focused on a software application, such as Introduction to Word Level 1. This can lack interest for students and does not meet their individual needs. With project based learning students complete technology projects that focus around problem solving tasks. Students learn technology skills gradually as they complete activities such as publishing a magazine, creating a multimedia storyboard, or developing a website.
Project Based Learning is personally meaningful to students because although everyone in the class may be learning the same technology skill, each student can pursue their own interests within the framework of the technology project.
The integration of technology can make teachers feel overwhelmed because it becomes one more thing that they have to do. It is true that the integration of technology adds another layer of learning that must occur. However, there are many benefits to integrating technology into curriculum using project based learning.
To learn more about project based learning, download project based learning examples created by teachers, or read about what other teachers and education researchers say about this strategy, try these links: Edutopia and Project Based Learning.