Project Based Learning Comes to Life with 30hands

Moia Rowsome Blog

Learning together in PBL

Knowledge construction, critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving and learner autonomy. These are just some of the crucial elements that teachers have been endeavoring to include in their daily lessons for some time now. As you can imagine, it is no easy feat. With time restraints and a strict curriculum to cover, it is a challenge to foster all of these valuable skills in class each day.

Project Based Learning (PBL) is an effective way to bring multiple elements into your students’ learning process. With 30hands Storyteller, you can make the whole process more engaging as your learners can record and document their learning. Perfect for formative assessment. Sign me up!

What is PBL?

Many believe that the traditional teaching model, where the learner is a passive observer or listener, does not prepare our students for the world we live in today. This is not to say that instruction is not valuable or necessary for learning. However, it has become clear that room is needed for more critical inquiry, problem solving, collaborative group work and decision making at school.


Learning through project work builds knowledge & autonomy.

Project Based Learning involves having students actively engaging in real world projects that they care about. The student moves from the passive listener to key instigator in their learning. Their role is investigative and this investigation drives their own learning.

According to Thomas (2000), there are five criteria that a project must have in order for it to be considered PBL:

  1. Centrality – The project actually is the curriculum. It is not to showcase something that they learned in class from the teacher or by doing some research. The process of the project itself is how the students are learning.
  2. Driving Question – The students must have a clear purpose to drive their project. The question must “be crafted in order to make a connection between activities and the underlying conceptual knowledge that one might hope to foster”.  (Barron et al. & The Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1998, p. 274).
  3. Constructive investigations – The project must involve an investigation that builds knowledge. If it is a project that involves using only knowledge and skills the students already have, then it is an activity or exercise, not a PBL project.
  4. Autonomy- The projects must be student driven. For example, students should have some choice in how they conduct their project. It should not be scripted by the teacher – in this way, the student has some autonomy to drive their own investigative work.
  5. Realism – The focus of the project must be on real life problems, not abstract or simulated problems. For example, the focus of the project could be  to plant and manage a garden to provide food for local homeless people. This highlights the importance of situated cognition and that the topic or problem to be solved must be real life.

How do I assess and document student learning?

Students now have the opportunity to show what they know as they go through their project. With 30hands, students can create videos and digital stories to explain their learning. Over the process of an entire project, they can create multiple videos to be entered into a portfolio for assessment by the teacher, peer review, parent review and self reflection.

By building a database of videos, photos and images, your student can create a video documenting their learning process. Here are some ideas how:


    1. Taking photos: Your students can take photos of the process they are undertaking, import their photos into 30hands and narrate over these to explain their learning.
    2. Taking videos: Your students can take videos of what they are doing. Or perhaps they want to interview someone in the real world that may be able to help them with their project? Maybe they are carrying out a scientific investigation where they want to film what is happening as they carry out the process? Include these videos as video slides, flanked by imagery from the the Pixabay generated search in the app and the annotation elements from the drawing tool.
    3. Using images: Perhaps they want to explain some background to what they are

      30hands drawing tool

      doing. Using the Pixabay generated search tool in 30hands, your students have access to a wide variety of safe and public domain images to choose from.

    4. Narration: By narrating over  each slide, they use their own voice in telling their story. This aids in making the process student driven. It’s easy to make edits and change things so your learners can improve on their learning throughout.
    5. Publishing your video: Your students then publish their video for the teacher to review, and for their classmates and parents to see too. Great for confidence building!

These are just some of the elements that 30hands can help you and your students with in their PBL process. The possibilities are infinite. Why not try it in your classroom? And reach out to us @30hands on Twitter on Facebook if you have any questions. Or send us an email to We would love to help you in implementing this process into your teaching!


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