eMINTS/eLearningMO is running our first session of the PBL course right now. I developed discussion forum questions for each module (which Dan Morris posted earlier) The graduate credit project is to choose a unit of study and create a project-based unit. The course is going well and the participating teachers really seem to be "getting" it.
The first time I facilitated the Elements: Project-Based Approaches course... I met with the participants for 3 face-to-face hours before they started the course online. During that time period, we went over the course interface in our district moodle environment, completed online introductions and began working on the lessons in Module 1. Everything else was completed online without face-to-face instruction.
The second time I facilitated the Elements: Project-Based Approaches course... I did not meet with the participants face-to-face. After the participant registered for the course, I sent them a welcome letter with details on how to get started. All work was completed online without face-to-face instruction.
Conclusion: I believe either method can be successful. I had about the same percentage of teachers drop out and the same percentage of completers in each course.
The first Elements course I facilitated was Project-Based Approaches. Since it was the first Elements course that I facilitated, I used the questions that was provided in the Facilitators package for the course. I also added my own questions and activities to extend the learning of the participants.
Since this was the first time many of the teachers had participated in an online course and an online learning environment, I had a 6 hour face to face training. At the face-to-face training, participants learned how to register and access the Engage Community, how to use the CD or online version of Elements as well as how to maneuver through the course and post and respond to each other. At the face to face I also gave them clear expectations of what was expected of them for the course. In addition to answering the extension question for each module, they were also expected to take an active part in their learning responding to at least two other learners for each section. This insured their active participation in the course as well as allowed them to share in the learning process where they shared ideas and learned from each other.
In the course, we also used the Group feature in Teachers Engage to form an online learning community for the course. I used an icebreaker activity…Creating a Wordle document to teach them how to post and to establish a safe learning environment. At the end they were able to upload their Action Plan and share their work with each other.
Project-Based Approaches elements was face to face. It was for the teachers in my school. We began with the discussion questions in the facilitation guide. Each week I printed out the questions for them to reflect on as they worked thru the e-learning. Then we met after school one day each week to discuss. Having training in our school builds community. We still discuss our projects and how they evolve.
The first time I facilitated PBL I did a 2 hour face to face to make sure they could navigate through all the parts. We have our questions and discussions in Moodle. Saving their Action Plan and reposting it was a challenge at times but at the end of the two hours I felt like they could get around the system and see where everything was and how to post and reply.
The second time more of it was face to face. We added a lot of other info to that session. The next one I am doing will be Elluminate for the first two hours and then Elluminate at the end for the wrap up part so we’ll see how that goes.
I have very good success rate with the Elements courses. It seems to be a manageable size for participants and I can really push them along.