Never Stop Exploring and Having Fun: Project Based Learning in a Special Semester
Project Based Learning (PBL) courses have been offered for three consecutive years at SHSID High School. The completion of projects is the final assessment standard, which discourages the passive form of student learning and devotes itself to cultivating students' independent learning and teamwork. It also attaches importance to students' independent exploration and innovation on the basis of existing knowledge. Students can find their own interests and actively explore the potential of their personal development in the future. For teachers, the PBL crossover feature enables them to learn and discuss with students more as a small community, so that more teaching methods can be explored, and more course contents can be arranged to improve PBL learning efficiency.
At the beginning of 2020, the sudden outbreak of COVID-19 disrupted the PBL schedule for the new semester. Fortunately, under the joint efforts of all departments, teachers have overcome many obstacles in order to convert the PBL courses from traditional offline education to online education, while they were meanwhile prepared to switch back to offline. From the online teaching training at the beginning of the semester to the final presentation at the end of the semester, PBL courses have maintained the same number of teaching hours as before. At the beginning, the online PBL course faced difficulties in practice, demonstration, and discussion. However, as teachers and students gradually adapted to online classes, the atmosphere of exploration and interest gradually returned to the courses.
During the outbreak, the teachers integrated the online teaching resources and adjusted the curriculum design, teaching method, and the evaluation method of PBL courses. An excellent collection of courses has emerged, such as: Graphic Design, Music Production Technology, Introduction to Python Programming, Introduction to the FRC Robot, Rapid Detection of African Swine Fever Virus Research, Historical Question Debate, Diet and Food Science, Real World Design Challenge, etc. Music Production Technology uses Logic Pro X software to produce songs with post-mixing technology, so that students have the opportunity to experience the process from song creation to post-mixing. Diet and Food Science have focused on the field of nutrition and health, which bring the students’ concern over health issues. Introduction to the FRC Robot draws the students’ attention to the FRC robot in a simple way in the fields of mechanics, electronics, and design. They learned and practiced the design process of assemble robot parts with SolidWorks software. The Historical Question Debating course inspires students to draw wisdom from historical stories and exercise their critical thinking ability from debate. With the help of online simulation and demonstration, the UAV Design course enables the students to experience the whole process from concept, design, assembling, and realization of UAV flight without leaving home. It is both scientific and interesting.
In this special semester, PBL multi-platform development has depended on the support of all teachers and students at SHSID. Through this period, teachers have developed new thinking with respect to teaching methods and activities. As more teachers and students interact and learn from each other, PBL will advance further in the direction of promoting student interests and exploration.
(Written by Tianzhou He and Hui Liao Pictures by Hui Liao)