Project Foundry Empowers Students and Supports Teachers in Project Based Learning

It is really difficult once you have seen Project Based Learning in action to want to experience education in any other way. Students really enjoy hands-on-learning and the lessons last a lifetime. With that being said, Project Based Learning is exhausting. Students are working hard researching, creating, and learning by doing. Teachers are managing multiple groups and projects at once all the while planning the next one.

Project Foundry is the best solution I have seen for creating and managing projects. Praised by some of the best PBL schools in America, its open ended and easy to use interface makes it possible for students and educators to effectively communicate and collaborate on projects. A lot of educational management software is created by companies for whom their edtech is an oft neglected side product that provides a steady revenue. 

This is not the case with Project Foundry. From conversations I have had with Shane Krukowski, the Managing Director of Project Foundry, it is clear that this is more than a business. He and his colleagues are passionate about education reform and helping education to transform into what research and experience show to be authentic and meaningful learning experiences for all.

One fear when implementing a new technology is that it would diminish or degrade the student and teacher relationship. With Project Foundry, the goal is actually to encourage and increase effective communication and feedback between the two and it does it quite well.

There are two main roles in the software interface, the Student and the Mentor:

Students are considered the main driving forces at Project Foundry. It makes sense that if a student learns in their own way and in what they are passionate about, then they will be more motivated to learn and remember. Students learning process begins with a project proposal. The questions asked to help develop a project proposal are not only thorough but thought provoking,. I have seen students use this to create very well thought out projects because of the structure of the project proposal. 

The student also aligns their project to core content standards or any standards your school uses to determine proficiency. In order to receive a High School diploma, they will need to earn enough credits to graduate. Rather than a teacher attempting to create one project/assignment that fits everyone, each student (or group) can decide for themselves the best way to learn the concept and demonstrate their evidence of learning.

Once a project is created and approved by a mentor, the student journals/logs about their daily progress and builds a portfolio of evidence that they are completing the project. This culminates in a presentation or exhibition of their work and if it meets the agreed upon standard for completion, the student receives credit towards their diploma. Below is an example of the main student screen where they can track their progress in various projects simultaneously.

Mentors is the term which Project Foundry applies to educators because their role is to provide assist the student in completing their project. With so much information already on the Internet and in books, the idea that teachers must deliver content for students to learn it is outdated. Students are fully capable of learning from their surroundings as we all do naturally from the time we are born. The important thing is that the research and motivation comes from the student. When educators are mentors they are able to spend their time helping the student develop their own skills and habits as opposed to solely concerning themselves with the degree to which content is learned.

Mentors use Project Foundry to manage the projects their students are working on. Mentors review proposals, time logs, journals, evidence, to provide feedback, resources, and wisdom/guidance on the students path of discovery. All of the information is stored and managed in an easy to view way so to provide efficient and effective feedback to a large group of students. Below is a view of what a Mentor's portal would look like. 

There is also an Admin role which allows for even more customization to suit the needs of the learning environment. As Students complete projects and earn credits for their work, Project Foundry keeps track of it and automatically creates portfolios of learning and an official transcript.

Implementing Project Foundry:
There is no one right way to learn or educate and Project Foundry respects this principle by providing numerous ways to use it in your classroom/school to suit everyone's needs and goals. Some possible implementations are: 
  • Independent Projects - The Student fully creates the project and all aspects of the process and assessment. The Mentor provides feedback and support throughout this process.
  • Seminars - Teacher creates and guides the project. Project Foundry is used to disseminate information and assign roles within the project. Students use Project Foundry to log their time and work completed.
  • Thematic Common Projects - The Teacher creates a project template based around a theme or unit and students create their own project proposals. 
    • Our Physics department has used this in the past where students create their own videos on Forces, Newton's Laws, etc.
  • Capstone Project - Whether it be the end of a large unit or the final project of a student's high school career, Project Foundry provides the structure to support a long term project that demonstrates the students ability to apply their knowledge.
Project Foundry is a service to educators and students that has the power to free you from the copious amounts of data tracking and planning that is necessary with Project Based Learning. With that taken care of, you and your students are able to spend more time working together and learning. I encourage you to check out the benefits of Project Foundry and then try it out for yourself.

My school is broadening its use of Project Foundry over the next few months and I will update you on all of the exciting accomplishments. I am committed to the mission of the BrokenAirplane Blog, to promote technology and services that make it possible to for students to learn more effectively. Project Foundry does an incredible job of helping educators work with large numbers of students and projects and I would highly recommend you look at how your school would benefit from using it.