Project-based learning is focused on research, planning problem-solving, authenticity, and inquiry. Collaboration, resourcefulness, and networking matter too–dozens of characteristics “fit” into project-based learning. Among other characteristics, its popularity comes from its general flexibility as a curriculum framework. Within the context of a well-designed project, you can do, teach, assess, and connect almost anything. The following might be useful if we had to settle on a handful of itemized characteristics for modern, connected, possibly place-based, and often digital project-based learning.
Research is not just compelling but is a big part of the work of any project. Researching the history of an issue or problem, analyzing the credibility of information, understanding the subtleties of given demographic data, seeing how technology can serve or distract you from the meat of the issue etc. are all the kind of knowledge which helps you turn a problem into an opportunity.
A Necessity for Creativity & Innovation
The 21st century is about niches, innovation, and scale–seeing an opportunity, and designing something that works on a given–and clear–scale among other themes. However, creativity is encouraged without being required too often. Points are given and a column is added to the rubric and teachers ask for it explicitly but designing a project–or helping students design their own project–that fails without creativity is another thing altogether.
Outside the box thinking, lateral thinking, and taking the best from existing models are all part of 21st-century learning.