Archive for the ‘Projects PLUS’ Category

Innovate through connections


Recently I watched an interesting interview with Harper Reed who was the chief technology officer for Barack Obama Presidential election campaign.

Reed describes himself as ‘an engineer who builds paradigm-shifting technology’. He also loves ‘using the enormity of the Internet to bring people together’.

What I really found interesting in this interview is that a self-confessed geek thinks the time has come for innovation to focus less on technology and more on people.

Reed says that technology has been mostly solved. Sure, technology will continue to move at a rapid pace with many more innovations to come. However we at the point now where we need to focus more on how people work with each other. As Reed says, how do you innovate on working with people?

Part of what Reed is interested in here is connecting diverse groups of people. He sees these connections and collaborations as the seeds of innovation.

I once worked with a history teacher who connected his students to the United Nations via live webcasts of the General Assembly. What a simple yet powerful way to connect his students to the world’s foremost organisation for peacekeeping and human rights! What a powerful way to learn at the same time as history is being written!

Connecting people is one of the key components of Jacaranda’s digital products. assessON, Knowledge Quest, myWorld Atlas, myWorld History Atlas, ProjectsPLUS and studyON connect students with their teachers. This enables teachers to track the progress of their students and to diagnose the strengths and weaknesses.

And there is also scope in myWorld Atlas, myWorld History Atlas and ProjectsPLUS to connect students, and their work, with not only their class mates but with students and teachers all over the world!

The technology has largely been solved.

Now the time has come for us to innovate powerful learning experiences by making the connections between learners.

The CORE of project-based learning

This morning I assisted a teacher with setting up ProjectsPLUS for her class.

This turned into an interesting discussion about the necessary elements of project-based learning.

We agreed that project-based learning should have the following CORE elements:

  • Critical thinking – The project enquiry promotes complex problem solving and higher-order thinking skills.
  • Choice – The project gives students the opportunity to make decisions.
  • Collaboration – The project gives students the opportunity to test their understanding and decision-making with peers. At the same time students should have the opportunity to critique the work of other group members.
  • Creativity – The project allows students to be innovative when creating a solution to the problem posed by the task.
  • Ownership – The project task is driven by students (with prompts and scaffolding from the teacher).
  • Relevance – The project enquiry is linked to the real world.
  • Engagement – The project must have an engaging context and authentic purpose.

We went a little overboard with the ‘C’ in CORE!

Jacaranda’s ProjectsPLUS is a unique ICT-based project which uses an exciting new research management system featuring media, templates and videos. It is a quick and easy way to set up group projects with all of the CORE elements.

Some examples of the CORE elements in ProjectsPLUS

Each student group is given a real world task and scenario. In the example below, students create an interactive map to demonstrate their understanding of China. The purpose here is to promote tourism in China.


Chinese tourism wants to attract more visitors to China to appreciate its fabulous history. As part of their marketing strategy, you have been asked to create a possible visitor’s itinerary for an historical tour of China.


You will use Google Maps to create an interactive map of China, which provides the location and details of possible venues to visit. You must ‘pin’ on a selection of ancient sites that people could visit now in modern China. Each pinned site would help them learn more about China’s past and should entice them to visit. Each pin can include images of the site and also details of the historical significance of the site. Your potential visitors will want to know

  • What will I see?
  • Why is it important?
  • When did this happen or which Chinese dynasty does it represent?
  • Who made or created it?

The teacher can use the project video to give students an engaging context to the task.

The students in the group can also test their ideas and understanding by collaborating with other group members. In particular, students upload their work to the research forum. The other group members check the work and add comments. Students can then use these comments to refine their work.

Students are also teachers in project-based learning!

ProjectsPLUS research forum

Select image to enlarge

ProjectsPLUS is available in various English, History, Humanities, Mathematics and Science eBookPLUS titles.

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