An Introduction to Project-Based Learning
With so much technological growth in the world of software, data, and consumerism, it may be just about time for the field of learning and education to experience a much-needed breakthrough. Academic institutions have established a large and valuable foundation of diverse research, development, and educational resources. With the right technological leverage and continued innovation, project-based learning can have an exponential impact on an individual’s way of life.
The SetLife Network (SetLife) is a nonprofit organization that aims to expand and improve access to technology education in today’s rapidly changing global environment. Job security and digital freedom are just a couple of the issues that are important for individuals to consider as technology continues to affect our lives in new and significant ways.
The idea of project-based learning recognizes that traditional learning methods feature peer-reviewed textbooks rich with data and information and lectures presented by professors who have specialized their knowledge over time. However, these methods now compete in an arena where virtually all of the information from all textbooks and video lectures from all professors can be accessed globally in a matter of seconds or minutes using portable computer devices such as iPhones, PCs, Macbooks, etc. This has had a profound effect not only on the social constructs involved in seeking quality education and professional career skills, but also on the psychology of our youth and the dynamics of consumerism.
Human attention is now the currency of the Information Age, driving consumer-targeted companies to develop new ways of delivering products and services to the masses. While this provides significant utility towards improving the quality of life for consumers, our educational systems need to be more strongly integrated with these new informational channels to ensure that the convenience and utility for the masses do not come at the expense of freedom and security for the individual.
The only truly effective way of protecting the mainstream mindshare from problems like social media addiction, job automation risk, and invasive personal data breaches is to educate the public about the risks and rewards of new technology. We can create learning experiences that are more exciting and more empowering at a lower cost, since the abundance of information access is only a decades-old feature of society. New people from all over the world are coming online every day and cross-cultural interactions will continue to multiply and flourish as we discover the most fundamental, global human values.
SetLife has dedicated resources to creating exactly these kinds of new learning experiences and in 2018, we trialed an exploratory Project-Based Learning Program in Barcelona, Spain. The four core contributors to the program collaborated on several project objectives over the course of 7 weeks to further the mission of the organization and establish the structure for future programs.
The focus of these programs is to allow for contributors to consume educational content in a way that can be directly applied to a project with a purpose, as opposed to an academic exercise. These projects are proposed and structured by SetLife to be continuously developed and iterated upon in an open-source community-driven style. All work environment logistics are managed by SetLife to minimize distractions and maximize flexibility, comfort, and focus for participants of the program. The broadest goal of this experience is to combine the guidance and professional discipline of a full-time internship with the education and cultural exposure of a semester studying abroad.
Promoting a diverse landscape of educational opportunities will help equip our youth the tools they need to solve humanity’s most challenging problems. We must understand that the debt-ridden path through a college education is not the only viable option for professional success and we will continue to develop creative and innovative solutions for modern education.
To learn more about SetLife and our efforts towards technology education and project-based learning, check out https://setlife.network/