According to Knowles, projects are tasks that grow out of the training being carried on in a course. Projects can be done on an individual basis or within a group. Knowles feels the project method stimulates interest and gives students an opportunity to pursue their special interests. It also enables the students to obtain practical experience and to gain a sense of accomplishment. Using projects in a learning activity is a good way of making the learning more relevant to the learners.
Good & Brophy describe two essential components of a project. Projects require a question or problem that organizes and drives activities, and the activities result in a series of products that culminate in a final product that addresses the driving question. They go on to say that final products should be shared with others and critiqued. The feedback participants receive enables them to reflect on and extend their emergent knowledge and to revise their products if necessary. Many times an individual project is only critiqued by the facilitator, but by sharing individual projects with other participants, the learner is afforded the opportunity to obtain more diverse viewpoints and feedback.
Many of the instructional strategies discussed here fall within the realm of group projects. Group projects can include simulations, role playing, case studies, problem solving exercises, group collaborative work, debates, small group discussion, and brainstorming. As with individual projects, participants in group projects should receive feedback in order to expose them to more diverse viewpoints.
Independent and group projects enable online learners to pursue special interests, to write or create for an audience, and to publish or present their findings and conclusions via the Internet. If evaluation and critique standards are presented to all groups or class participants, the learner or group presenting can benefit from the diverse viewpoints and feedback of their peers and professors. The Internet provides the additional potential of obtaining an even broader range of feedback from experts or interested peers who access the final product via a class web page. Kimeldorf feels utilizing the projects method in online learning can integrate learning into a larger community.
This text has been adapted from Creating a Powerful Online Course through the Use of Multiple Instructional Strategies