PBL Home Page

Outline of These Materials

1. Future of ICT in Education

2. Learning Goals in a PBL Lesson

3. What is ICT-Assisted PBL?

4. Planning a PBL Lesson

5. Authoring a Hypermedia Document

6. Timeline and Milestones

7. Assessment

8. FAQ and Conclusions


Send Email to Website Author Dave Moursund

Part 4: Planning an ICT-Assisted PBL Lesson

The first phase of developing an ICT-Assisted PBL lesson plan focuses on defining the topic of the lesson and developing the curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

In this section we continue work on a PBL Lesson Planning Table that we started in Part 2.

A Seven-Step Planning Process

The first phase of developing an ICT-Assisted PBL lesson plan focuses on defining the topic of the lesson and developing the curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

The following is adapted from Moursund, D.G. (2003) Project-Based Learning in an Information Technology Environment. Eugene, OR: ISTE.

  1. Project content. Develop a working title and a mission statement for the project. Develop a brief summary of the content area. Some examples of mission statements include: 1) to preserve our town's wetlands; 2) to make our lake safe for swimming; 3) to capture and preserve the history of our community; 4) to improve the quality of life of people in our community; and 5) to understand underlying causes of civil wars. The summary includes answers to the two important questions:
    1. How does project content fit into the "big picture" of the overall subject being studied or course of instruction? For example, if the project is being done in a history class, how does it fit in with the goals of the history unit or course? How does it fit in with students increasing their expertise as historians? Notice that the same questions are used for other disciplines (such as math, language arts, etc.) but the answers will be different. One of your roles as a teacher is to help your students understand the big picture.
    2. Is the overall mission clear, and are the projects that the students are going to do clear contributors to the overall mission? Innumerable individual, team, and whole class projects might be designed to contribute to accomplishing a mission. (If you have trouble doing this analysis, the chances are that the project has weak authenticity.)
  2. Project goals. Briefly analyze the project in terms of how it relates to:
    1. General goals of education. [See Chapter two of: Moursund, D.G. (2005, 2006). Brief Introduction to Educational Implications of Artificial Intelligence. Access at http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~moursund/
      .] Which specific goals of education are being focused on as students do the work of this project?
    2. Specific goals within the content area the project is being done in. For example, if the project is being done as part of a science curriculum, then it should have specific science learning goals and objectives. Quite likely these should be tied to school district and state goals and objectives within the subject area.
    3. General goals for ICT in education. Which specific goals of ICT in education are being focused on as students do the work of this project?
    4. Specific goals and objectives within ICT.
  3. Summarize the prerequisite knowledge and skills that you will assume students have. Do all of your students meet these prerequisites? (How do you know this? And, are all of your students at an appropriate Developmental Level for the type of work and learning that you have in mind?) How will you deal with situations in which individual students lack key prerequisite knowledge and skills? Perhaps especially in K-12 education, this is a very challenging issue. A third grade teacher may be working with students whose current reading, writing, and math performances vary between the first grade and fifth grade levels. An eighth grade math teacher may be faced by a number of students who are performing two to four years below grade level.
  4. Teams. Answer questions such as:
    1. Will each student do an individual project, or will there be multi-student teams? If there are teams, how will the teams be created? Will the teams include people from outside of the class such as other students (perhaps even from other countries), parents, or mentors?
    2. (Assuming that there are teams.) What role will you play in specifying team leaders and the roles of each person on a team? For example, will you select teams so that they are balanced in strength and have diversity? Will you do ability grouping or just the opposite--work to have each team have balanced abilities?
    3. To what extend will individuals or teams be able to define their own projects, within the general framework of the topic being addressed in the PBL lesson?
  5. Timeline. This should include: [Note: We will focus on this in Part 5 of the workshop.]
    1. Timeline for the whole project, including minutes or class periods per day and number of days/weeks/months to be devoted to the project.
    2. Checkpoint dates. What are the major milestones in accomplishing the project, and what are the dates by which these milestones are to be reached? What will students or teams be expected to present, show, turn in, etc. as evidence of having reached the milestones?
  6. Resources and materials.
    1. What ICT resources will the students and teams need? Are their constraints on the availability of these resources? (For example, perhaps students will need to use a digital video camera, and there is only one digital video camera in the school. What happens if other classes also need to use this camera, or if it is broken sometime during the project?)
    2. What information resources do the students need to access? Will you have specific requirements on the number or nature of different information resources the students must use?
    3. Will students be allowed to or encouraged to use people as information resources? If yes, how will this be facilitated, monitored, and referenced or attributed?
  7. Assessment. How will students be assessed? How will you deal with individual assessment if you are having students work in teams? [Note: Part 7 of this Website addresses assessment.]

    Steps 1-7 are carried out in a cyclic fashion. The process of working on a step will often suggest possible changes to the thinking you have done on other steps. As you near completion of steps 1-7, finalize the project title and mission statement.

Individual and small group activity. Think about the curriculum, instruction, and assessment in your proposed ICT-Assisted PBL lesson. Are they aligned? That is, are they consistent with each other and mutually supportive? Are they authentic? Share your "findings" and thoughts within your small group.

Individual activity. Take a look at the table given below. Focus specifically on the second column, Detailed Learning Objectives. (Parts 6 and 7 of the workshop will focus on the third and fourth columns.) Spend some time developing the Objectives under each of the Goals in your ICT-Assisted PBL lesson.

Debrief: If time permits, we will share "stories" about what seems to be difficult and what seems to be easy in doing this type of lesson planning.

PBL Lesson Planning Table

Learning Goal: Students learn …

Detailed Learning Objectives

Timeline and Milestones

Assessing the Learning Objectives

1. the subject matter content of the project.




2. ICT as integral part of subject matter content.




3. some general aspects of ICT, not specific just to the course or content area being studied.




4. to budget resources and to self assess.




5. to work as a team member




6. to be a project proposer, a problem solver, and a "higher-order" thinker.




7. to transfer their learning over time, distance, and environments.




8. to learn and help others learn all of the above




9. other important knowledge and skills (please specify)




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