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Compelling Learning Through Construction – Progressive Project-Based Learning

Embedded forms of learning have existed since the beginning of civilization and even earlier during prehistoric times. One example of this is well demonstrated by the habits and skills children pick up from their parents in the context of daily life. The learning process itself is embedded in daily interactions in a natural, unaffected manner. For this reason, “learning,” so to speak, need not be an intentional effort. In many cases, the focus naturally rests on absorbing the inspirations and motivations behind the skill/habit or knowledge base. In many cases, it is a playful, often cheerful, intriguing, and even relaxing process.

Interestingly, the Chinese term 习得的 (xí dé de)

refers to implicit learning yet comes across

as a very casual expression

In modern-day society, with the birth of various pedagogical methods, the classroom has gradually become a more diversified space for learning. At the same time, there are unsettled concerns about how the classroom is fundamentally colored and preconditioned in less ideal ways that can be attributed to educational, cultural memory (that is, an unconscious passing down of learning modes aimed at a specific purpose). Concretely speaking, the classroom is being argued to be modeled after training methods geared for use on the industrial line or, rather, factory line.

That brings us to today’s core point of discussion. Project-Based Learning is a method of instruction through which students can gain knowledge, experience, and skills by working for an extended period to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge. Along with this comes a rarely discussed learner’s asset – esthesia (capacity for sensation or feeling; sensitivity). Although English speakers seldom visit this term, the Chinese equivalent, 感知 (gǎnzhī), is used very often even outside of technical discussions and can roughly be translated as “feeling knowledge.” For this reason, it would not be surprising if it turned out that the Chinese have an advantageous astuteness when it comes to learning in action/context.

Project-based learning is powerful because it harnesses a primordial element inherent to all informal learning processes. But the practical side of things, with parenting or students selecting coursework that will help them with their future career path, the takeaway question naturally becomes: What would Progressive Project Based Learning look like? For this, we must bring into the discussion the founder of the ed-tech start-up Harmony Plus, Inc. Through his efforts, the very notion of collaboration is being upgraded alongside its education.

Mr. Bill Zhao is the Founder of Harmony Plus. Originally from Shanxi Province and a seasoned entrepreneurial education practitioner, he provides consulting and training services regarding enterprise transformation and innovation to well-known international companies and institutions executives. Also, he is deeply involved in consulting services in the Bay Area Local School District. He designs, co-designs, and operates programs with UC Berkeley, Stanford, MIT, and other renowned organizations. He helped hundreds of students to get into their dream schools for continuous success.

Typification of PBL Modes

We become more familiar with his educational philosophy during a discussion with Bill. According to what we understood, in his opinion, progressive project-based learning (PBL) comes down to integrating PBL with breakthrough topics and groundbreaking projects. He explains that “PBL is a teaching method where students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects. PBL engages students in deep and long-lasting learning and inspires them a love of learning and personal connection to their academic experience. Engaged hearts and minds, deeper learning, exposure to adults and careers, a sense of purpose, success skills, rewarding teacher relationships, creativity, and technology.”

Comparison of Tradition and Modern Model

There are other benefits to these programs Bill explained, “passing through these research programs, you can get unique experience, show your interest in specific academic areas, try to get recommendation letters from professors – importantly not so much written based on passive observations of you but more so based on collaborations with you!”

We may never know if the industrial line developed in Europe during the industrial revolution has indeed deeply conditioned the potential of classroom modes. But on the other hand, we can be confident that organizations like Harmony Plus, Inc. will be part of the redefining of learner-coach dynamics, something that will also directly impact the speed and outcomes of the next industrial revolution.

Current Harmony Plus PBL Courses

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