Monday, November 30, 2009

A Corporate Example of Project Based Learning

Enough talking about how to design project based learning, let's get down to the brass tacks and look at an example of a PBL lesson. If you would like more information on project based learning before looking at an example please review my series of project based learning blog posts. This example is titled "Selling Sleep Disorder Relief" and was designed to help sleep products sales people improve their sales with customers suffering from sleep disorders. Most of the process is designed to be completed over the course of 6 days by groups of sales professionals within their store location during free time in between customers.

The process begins by the facilitator communicating the guidelines through email and will conclude with the participants meeting to perform the presentations. The email sent to participants at the beginning of the project will outline the guidelines of the project and provide access to the project web site which serves as a resource to participants throughout the project. The details of each step of the process are described in the table below.

Project Begins
Project facilitator groups participants according to their store location and assigns each group a sleep disorder. This step of the process is initiated through an email from the facilitator describing the guidelines of the project and providing access to the project web site. Once groups are formed and assigned a sleep disorder, they can begin working on the project and contact the facilitator for assistance when needed. Because the project is able to be facilitated online there are less expenses associated with travel and time in a classroom.
Groups begin researching symptoms of their assigned sleep disorder using multiple internet resources. Potential links are available in the Resources section of the project web site to help get participants started. However, they are encouraged to extend their research beyond the sites listed on the Resources page of the project site. Learners will develop a greater understanding for the information by conducting research on their own rather than being spoon fed the information.
Develop Outline
Groups develop an outline highlighting the key findings of their research and possible solutions for the customers sleep disorder. The outline will be submitted to facilitator for feedback. This allows the facilitator to provide formative feedback to the group before they potentially go too far down the wrong path.
3Develop Handout
Groups will begin developing the handout after receiving feedback on their outline from the facilitator. The handout will be designed to summarize the key points and distributed during the presentation. This will serve as a job aid to other participants of the class who will be learning about the sleep disorders presented by the groups.
Develop Presentation
Groups develop their presentation including the role play sales presentation simulation. There will be an opportunity to receive feedback and practice the presentation in front of the facilitator. The opportunity to practice the presentation in front of the facilitator provides another opportunity for formative feedback to ensure they are headed down the right path and are grasping the instructional objectives of the lesson.
Perform Presentation
The groups will perform their presentations for the other groups and the facilitator. The handouts will also be distributed at this time. Performing the presentation in front of other class participants provides the opportunity for participants to demonstrate the performance described in the instructional objectives and for other participants to learn about the specific sleep disorder.
Debrief and Discuss
The facilitator will debrief and discuss the key points of each groups presentation using the handouts provided by each group of learners. These handouts will then be assembled by the learners to be used as a reference/job aid helping them take advantage of what they learned from other groups presentations. This and the final project grade are where summative feedback is given based off of the culminating project.

This is just one example of Project Based Learning in a corporate environment. Hopefully this example will give others ideas of how to get started and my series of project based learning posts will fill in the details of each step along the way. Do you have any examples of using project based learning in a corporate environment or suggestions of how to improve upon this example? If so please leave a comment with an example, suggestion, or have anything to say about project based learning.

Related Posts:
The posts listed below provide many more details regarding designing project based learning in a corporate environment.


Tanja said...

Nice article, thanks a lot!

My idea: If they would write their results in a wiki - maybe work from the beginning together in a Wiki - they would have one place in the end with all the results, where they could go back later to review. And - more important - they could use the Wiki later to add to each presentation their experiences with customers, describe their best practice or "best mistake". With this, the learning and collaboration process would not end as the course ends.

Joe Deegan said...

Great idea Tanja! That's the direction I was going by having each group create a handout but a wiki would make the information more accessible and easier for the groups to work together at a distance. I am always looking for ideas of how to use Wikis in Corporate Training and this is a great example. Thanks.