A reflective personal student blog for Project Based Learning

Spent half of the afternoon trying to imagine how to format a blog for my students who are doing TPE (Travaux Personnels Encadrés). These are the French counterpart for project based learning. Students are required to have a carnet de bord (logbook) to record their research and work trajectory which will lead them to defining a problématique (big question), imagine and produce something which will transform the knowledge they acquired into something new, an abstract which summarizes their work and finally orally expose to a jury their findings and justify their research and product.

This is very challenging work and I find it extremely interesting. However, neither students nor teachers are given the means to do a good job
– students because they are overloaded with very heavy program requirements in umpteen disciplines, have a very loaded timetable so have very little time to give to this kind of project,
– teachers, who are not given some time together to talk about what needs to be done as a follow up or reflect on what has happened. Many have not even had any training on how to work this way and do not have any computer skills.

I have been trying to introduce technological tools to make the work of both parties involved easier but find there is much resistance from teachers and students alike to abandon their traditional ways.

I have opened a virtual community last year, where we could leave messages, share documents (instead of photocopying and systematically not having them when needed)
it was a flop… only two students entered it and the three other teachers involved did not even acknowledge it although they enrolled and knew how it worked.

This year I will try to substitute the notebook for the blog – students are marked on their logbook and should have it at all times when teachers ask for it. However, this is a permanent path of war as this rarely happens. A blog is much easier to keep, you can keep it open and note down the results of your research immediately as you go along, link directly to the sites you have found without having to copy the url, the citation and the explanation by hand.
We can give them link lists to refer to and leave on their template just a click away. As they are working most of the time on the web, it is much easier to post directly to the blogger.

Tell me what you thing about the model I have imagined (warning: it’s in French)

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