Creative Constructor
Lab Virtual
Leadership Exchange
at ISTELive 21
Edtech Advocacy &
Policy Summit

PBL & Tech: Digital Tools for Every Phase of the Project Cycle

Explore and create
Pre-registration required

Explore and create : BYOD

Wednesday, June 26, 11:30 am–12:30 pm
Location: 115C

Suzie Boss   Jane Krauss  
In this fast-paced BYOD session, we’ll explore tools and apps useful to teachers and students during each phase of the PBL cycle. From engaging interest on through inquiry, research, project management, constructing artifacts of learning and sharing with audiences, try your hand at technologies that really make projects GO!

Audience: Teachers, Technology coordinators/facilitators, Library media specialists
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices required
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Project-, problem- and challenge-based learning
Grade level: PK-12
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Empowered Learner
  • Students use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.
Knowledge Constructor
  • Students build knowledge by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories and pursuing answers and solutions.
For Educators:
  • Manage the use of technology and student learning strategies in digital platforms, virtual environments, hands-on makerspaces or in the field.
Additional detail: ISTE author presentation

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

The goal of our session is to transform the learning experience by leveraging best practices for project-based learning while also integrating technology purposefully. This session has dual outcomes: (1) to help participants understand the phases of PBL (with learning goals and activities unique to each phase), and (2) to give participants a chance to brainstorm and try tools and applications that support deeper learning at each phase of the project cycle. For each PBL phase we will suggest a set of tools, invite more suggestions from participants, and together try our hand at one or two. The basis for this work is the presenters’ extensive consultation with schools around the world, university teaching, interviews and research that led to the writing of the popular ISTE book, Reinventing Project-Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age, 3rd Ed. Seasoned PBL teachers will benefit from exposure to tools suited to projects, and tech-savvy ones will learn the essential features of PBL design and implementation. Both groups will enjoy lively interaction with fellow participants and remote visitors using a variety of tech tools on their own devices. This is an updated edition of a BYOD session that has been sold out in previous ISTE conferences (and which informed the technology tools featured in the latest edition of Reinventing PBL, released in 2018). It should appeal to diverse audiences: conference-goers comfortable with PBL but less familiar with technology; tech-savvy educators looking to expand their understanding of PBL; and returning attendees from last year’s session, looking for “what’s next” ideas to continue improving their practice. Authentic project examples will highlight how technology supports PBL success in contexts such as makerspaces, flipped classrooms, and in classes that emphasize computational thinking and coding.
Here are the phases of PBL and a sampling of the tools we’ll mention or explore together:
Sparking Interest – Kahoot! or Skype in the Classroom

Question Finding, Problem-Posing – ArcView, TuVa

Research – Google Alerts

Working with Experts – Twitter, Google +, Hangouts, Skype

Teamwork – Google Docs, Google Sites, SMS

Field Work – Phone cameras and video, STEM apps for gathering data

Project Management – Padlet, Trello, Slack

Constructing, Refining, Presenting Artifacts of Learning – Evernote Suite, Weebly, QR Codes

Reflecting – Periscope, Edublogs, Flipgrid Seesaw


By design, this session will reflect the phases of effective, digital-age PBL.
--Anticipation: Before the session begins we share a Twitter hashtag and post prompts to build interest and invite remote participants to join in.
---Project launch: As participants enter the session, they will answer a Poll Everywhere question using their phones or other devices. Their response to “What new tech are you most interested in integrating into project-based learning?" will show on the board and we’ll get started by mapping a few of these tools to PBL.
--Building background: After brief introductions we’ll describe a traditional project-based unit of study and illustrate how, with a little remodeling and the right tools at the right times, PBL becomes more engaging, rigorous, and authentic, meeting aims expressed in ISTE Standards for both educators and students.
--Collaborative problem solving: Working together, we will tackle our driving question: "How can more effective integration of digital tools lead to deeper learning in PBL?" For the remainder of the session, we will experiment with tools that support each phase of learning in PBL. Along the way we will ask the audience “what else?” knowing they will have suggestions for emerging technologies that are new to us.
--Sharing results: We will crowdsource these into a collaborative document, adding them to the full toolkit for attendees to carry away and share with others.
--Reflection: In the last few minutes we will take questions and comments, and encourage participants to consider their next steps with digital-age PBL.

Supporting research

Our primary resource for this session is Reinventing Project-Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age, 3rd Ed., by Suzie Boss and Jane Krauss (ISTE, 2018).

Additional resources include:

Boss., S., & Krauss, J. Thinking Through Project Based Learning. (Corwin, 2013).
Boss, S., with Larmer, J. Project Based Teaching: How to Create Rigorous and Engaging Learning Experiences. (ASCD, 2018).
Larmer, J., Mergendoller, J., & Boss, S. Setting the Standard for Project Based Learning. (ASCD, 2015).
Krauss, J., & Prottsman, K. Computational Thinking and Coding for Every Student. (Corwin, 2016).

Common Sense Media: "What is Project Based Learning?"

Web resources:
Buck Institute for Education, "What is PBL?"
Common Sense Media: "Tools for Project Based Learning"
High Quality PBL:

More [+]


Suzie Boss, PBLWorks National Faculty emeritus
Jane Krauss, Consultant

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