Technology & Project Based Instruction

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A brief overview of project-based instruction and integrating technology for such in the EFL classroom.

A brief overview of project-based instruction and integrating technology for such in the EFL classroom.

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  • OR: New Skills for a New Century Dewey's idea of Project-based Learning (PBL) was introduced into the field of second language education nearly two decades ago as a way to reflect the principles of student-centered teaching (Hedge, 1993). Since then, PBL has also become a popular language and literacy activity at various levels and in various contexts (see Beckett, 1999; Fried-Booth, 2002; Levis & Levis, 2003; Kobayashi, 2003; Luongo- Orlando, 2001; Mohan & Beckett, 2003; Weinstein, 2004). For example, it has been applied to teach various ESL and EFL skills around the world (e.g., Fried-Booth, 2002). More recently, PBL has been heralded as the most appropriate approach to teaching content-based second language education (Bunch, et al., 2001; Stoller, 1997), English for specific purposes (Fried-Booth, 2002), community-based language socialization (Weinstien, 2004), and critical and higher order thinking as well as problem-solving skills urged by the National Research Council (1999). Despite this emphasis, there is a severe shortage of empirical research on PBL and research-based frameworks and models based on sound theoretical guidance in general and second and foreign language education in particular (Thomas, 2000). Also missing from the second and foreign language education literature is systematic discussion of PBL work that brings together representative work, identifying obvious gaps, and guiding the field toward future directions. This, first of its kind, volume bridges these obvious gaps through the original work of international scholars from Canada, Israel, Japan, Singapore, and the US.


  • 1. Erin Lowry Senior English Language Fellow 1st Regional ELT Conference September 19 & 20, 2008
  • 2.
    • "Teachers must become comfortable as co-learners with their students and with colleagues around the world. Today it is less about staying ahead and more about moving ahead as members of dynamic learning communities. The digital-age teaching professional must demonstrate a vision of technology infusion and develop the technology skills of others.  These are the hallmarks of the new education leader.“
    — Don Knezek, ISTE CEO, 2008
  • 3. What is project-based instruction? How can I use project-based learning in the classes I teach? How can technology work with PBI?
  • 4. Another Communicative Approach
    • Content-Based Approach
    • Task-Based Approach
    • Theme-Based Approach
  • 5. A Project Is…
    • “… a long-term (several weeks) activity that involves a variety of individual or cooperative tasks such as developing a research plan and questions, and implementing the plan through empirical or document research that includes collecting, analyzing, and reporting data orally and/or in writing” (Beckett, 2002, p. 54).
  • 6. What is Project-Based Learning?
    • Asks a question or poses a problem that all students can answer. Concrete, hands-on experiences occur.
    • Allows students to look at issues and topics in real-world problems.
    • Fosters abstract, intellectual tasks to explore complex issues.
  • 7. Benefits of PBI Student communities of inquiry Authentic communication Cooperative learning Collaboration Problem-sovling Learner-centered Alternative assessment Integrated skills instruction Strategy training
  • 8. Characteristics of Project Work
    • Focus on authentic content rather than specific language
    • Learner-centered
    • Cooperative learning
    • Authentic integration of skills and processing of information from varied sources
    • Product-oriented with an authentic purpose
    • Motivates and builds confidence
  • 9. NETS for Students
    • Creativity and Innovation
    • Communication and Collaboration
    • Research and Information Fluency
    • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
    • Digital Citizenship
    • Technology Operations and Concepts
  • 10. NETS for Teachers
    • Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity
    • Design and develop digital-age learning experiences and assessments
    • Model digital-age work and learning
    • Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility
    • Engage in professional growth and leadership
  • 11. Types of Projects
    • Structured Projects - determined, specified, and organized by the teacher in terms of topic, methodology, and presentation.
    • Unstructured Projects - defined largely by the students.
    • Semi-structured Projects - organized in part by the teacher and in part by the students.
  • 12. The Project Framework
    • The Project-Framework is a tool that helps students to learn language, content, and skills simultaneously. It consists of two components: the planning graphic and the project diary . The former provides the categorization of the target language, content, and skills and the latter provides students with a weekly summarization task .
    (Beckett & Slater, 2005)
  • 13. (Beckett & Slater, 2005)
  • 14. Integrating Technology
    • Word processing skills
    • Basic photo, video, and audio editing
    • Research skills
    • New literacy skills
  • 15. Technology-Enhanced Projects
    • Blogs
    • Wikis
    • Websites
    • Podcasts
    • Videos
  • 16. Projects with Authentic Concerns
    • Designing leaflets for foreign travel agencies outside of Colombia
    • Creating a bulletin board display introducing new teachers or students
    • Creating an audio book for other classes or schools
    • Developing a photo essay about life in Colombia for international visitors or exchange programs
  • 17. Projects with Authentic Issues
    • Staging a debate on censorship
    • Conducting a presentation on AIDS awareness
    • Publishing survey results on coping with social change in
    • Developing arguments for and against international disputes
  • 18. Learner-Centered Projects
    • Planning and implementing field trips to an international airport to interview international travelers
    • Conducting presentations on local sports teams or heroes
    • Producing a theatrical interpretation of a favorite film or TV show
    • Putting on a fashion show
  • 19. Data Collection
    • Research projects - library work
    • Correspondence projects - communication with individuals via email, phone, fax, letters, etc.
    • Survey projects
    • Encounter projects - face-to-face contact
  • 20. Project Outcome
    • Production projects - bulletin boards, brochures, videos, posters, letters, photo essays, menus, etc.
    • Performance projects - debates, presentations, drama, etc.
    • Organizational projects - planning and forming a club, conversation partner programs, etc.
  • 21. Developing a Project
    • Agree on a theme for the project
    • Determine the final outcome
    • Structure the project
    • Prepare students for the language demands of step 5
    Stoller (1997) and Sheppard and Stoller (1995)
  • 22. Developing a Project
    • Student gathers information
    • Prepare students for the language demands of step 7
    Stoller (1997) and Sheppard and Stoller (1995)
  • 23. Developing a Project
    • Prepare students for the language demands of step 9
    • Present final product
    • Students evaluate the project
    Stoller (1997) and Sheppard and Stoller (1995)
  • 24. Preparing for Information Gathering
    • Correspondence or encounter projects - plan exercises on question formation, introduce conversational gambits, role play for practice, practice note taking and recording
    • Research projects - review steps for finding resources, practice skimming and note taking
    • Other - using graphic organizers, Internet literacy skills
  • 25. Project Examples
    • Storytelling and creation
    • Scrapbooks
    • Photo, audio, video, writing editing
    • Class magazine or newsletter
    • Surveys
    • Presentation
    • Photo essays
  • 26.  
  • 27.  
  • 28.  
  • 29.  
  • 30. Resources for Project Work Ideas
    • Read Write Think
    • Thinkfinity
    • Project Learning—Edutopia, George Lucas Foundation
  • 31. Portfolios & Alternative Assessment
  • 32. Any Questions?
    • Email me: [email_address]
    • My wiki and the presentation:
  • 33. References
    • Alan, B. & Stoller, F. (2005). Maximizing the benefits of project work in foreign   language classrooms. English Teaching Forum Online, 43 (4). Retrieved December 13, 2006 from
    • Baek, Y., Jung, J. & Kim, B. (2008). What makes teachers use technology in the classroom? Computers & Education , 50, 224–234.
    • Beckett, G. (2002). Teacher and student evaluations of project-based instruction. TESL Canada Journal, 19 (2), 52 -66.
    • Beckett, G. & Slater, T. (2005). The project framework: a tool for language, content, and skills integration. ELT Journal . 59 (2), 108-116.
    • Beckett, G. H. (2005). Academic language and literacy socialization through project-based instruction: ESL student perspectives and issues. Journal of Asian Pacific Communication , 15(1), 191-206.
    • Beckett, G. H. & Chamness Miller, P. (2006). Project-based second and foreign language education . Greenwich, Conn.: Information Age Pub.ç
    • Foss, P., Carney, N., McDonald, K. & Rooks, M. (2007). Project-Based Learning Activities for Short-Term Intensive English Programs. Asian EFL Journa l, 23(x). Retrieved September 5, 2008 from
  • 34. References
    • Fang, X, & Warschauer, M. (2004). Technology and curricular reform in China: A case study. TESOL Quarterly 38(2), 301-323.
    • Fried-Booth, D. L. (2002). Project work. (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    • Friedman, J. (2000). Using Online Projects to Enhance Learning. Retrieved from portfolio/MACE .
    • Jeon-Ellis, G., Debski, R. & Wigglesworth, G. (2005). Oral Interaction around Computers in the Project-Oriented CALL Classroom. Language Learning & Technology , 9(3), pp. 121-145.
    • NETS For Students. (2007). ISTE’s Educational Technology Standards for Students. Retrieved from .
    • Thomas, J. W. (2000). A review of research on project-based learning. The Autodesk Foundation. Retrieved from World Wide Web:
  • 35. References
    • Moss, D. (1997). Project-based learning and assessment: A resource manual for teachers.   Arlington, VA: The Arlington Education and Employment Program (REEP). (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED442306)
    • Moss, D. & Van Duzer, C. (1998). Project-based learning for adult English language learners. National Clearinghouse for ESL Literacy Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED427556)
    • Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. (2002). Implementing Project-Based Instruction. Retrieved September 5, 2008 from
    • Stoller, F. (1997). Project work: A means to promote language content. English Teaching Forum Online, 35 (4). Retrieved from