Inquiry and project-based learning (PBL) are essential pedagogical tools for the 21st century educator. Encouraging creativity, rigor, collaboration and independent learning, such student-driven methods provide educators with the ideal opportunity to embrace their status as “guide on the side”. With the right preparation, inquiry and project-based learning can be a game-changer. The challenge for educators often lies in the planning, that essentially means the difference between a successful project, and a complete flop. Ensuring the essential elements are in place before embarking on a project is the first step to ensuring class-wide success.

#1. Accessibility to Resources

Providing students with the right questions and ideas to begin with, project and inquiry-based learners take on the role of the ‘private investigator’, researching, questioning and fishing out resources to form thoughtful conclusions. This kind of in-depth self-education requires resources of all kinds, from all corners of the web to ensure their inquisitive nature is fully nurtured. Often, the difficulty lies in monitoring student safety and relevance in their quest for answers. Using a platform like Fishtree, students are afforded access to millions of curriculum-aligned resources from every source imaginable, guaranteed to feed their curiosity, while providing a safe alternative to a manual web search.

#2. Instant Feedback Facility

As students continue on their individual journeys to self-discovery, effective feedback is crucial in an effort to provide the best support. As “guides on the side”, educators are left with the challenging task of monitoring student progress, providing individualized support throughout, posing a considerable threat to their time management. Fishtree offers educators instant feedback options that allow for real-time interaction with students, providing an ideal time-saving solution, while ensuring no struggling student goes it alone, even increasing student voice as an alternative to in-class discussions.

#3. Secure Collaboration Feature

Without the ability to collaborate on a regular basis, students embarking on projects are stripped of the essential team-building aspect of PBL. While conscious not to allow a project to take over every class period, facilitating student collaboration is key. Fishtree’s social media-based feature allows students to collaborate in real-time, with the added bonus of being able to source and share resources, from the one location. The added security measures ensure student safety as educators can monitor all online activity. With this feature, students not only reap all the benefits of positive collaboration, but digital citizenship is also brought to the fore. With the ability to check in with students directly and monitor online activity, educators are offered a real-time view of student progress as projects are completed.

Fishtree provides a quick solution to ensuring these key elements are incorporated in student learning as they embark on project and inquiry-based learning. In a secure, collaborative setting that keeps educators clued in, and resources in one spot, successful PBL is easily achievable, and guaranteed to infuse a class with innovation.

About the author:


Lorna Keane is a teacher of French, English and ESL. She specializes in language teaching and has taught in second and third-level institutions in several countries. She holds a B.A in languages and cultural studies and an M.A in French literature, theory and visual culture. Follow her on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

Image credits: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / CC BY 2.0