It`s quite common to talk about project-based learning in class rooms, but few mention that this is also a good method for teaching topics in distance education.
Using project-based learning you may allow a variety of learning styles, and thereby create diversified teaching. This is, as I see it, one of the most important things in distance education. We have to get away from the old thinking, created by laziness and lack of imagination, that using LMS or web pages only containing text in some form or the other, are enough.
Using true projects as tools to help students of distance education learn, is important also for creating intrinsic motivation. The students get a “real” world orientation and their work suddenly gets a value beyond just the demonstrated competence of the student. This is crucial in distance education as we do not meet the students in real life.
If an LMS, like Moodle, is properly utilized it creates a student environment containing positive feedback and allowance for choice. By introducing a true project, like we have been doing here at ICT and Learning 1 and the module IT103, we can encourage the use of higher order thinking skills and learning concepts. After all we want our students to be able to analyze, make synthesis, and evaluate and thereby reach the highest level of Blooms taxonomy.
A project-based approach also facilitates performance-based instructions and helps the students being responsible for their own learning.
In my field students who are not able to take responsibility, analyze and evaluate is not doing any good. Social Informatics is all about being able to draw your own conclusions and make your own evaluation based on several bits and pieces of information.
So in my opinion distance education without a project based approach is almost worthless, at least in my field.