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Project Based Learning and Infusion Matrix
One of the primary goals of Infusion Matrix is to provide a convenient, powerful tool for implementation of Project Based Learning (PBL) in the digital classroom. The model has been around for some time now, and has proven time and again to increase student engagement, performance and achievement. J.W. Thomas' Review of Research On Project Based Learning (2000), provides evidence that PBL far out performs traditional methods of instructional delivery across the curriculum. In fact, extraordinary gains have been cited to demonstrate as much as 15% to 90% increases on standardized assessments in as little as two years (2000). If PBL is so effective, then why aren't more educators taking advantage of the method? Many of the major obstacles hindering implementation of PBL arise from a few key factors:

1. a lack of time to carry out the project
2. limited access to powerful tools of digital production, research and collaboration
3. a lack of teacher experience with the process

Modern curriculum has been designed to meet the demands of standardized testing, which means teachers are required to cover a multitude of topics in a very short period of time. The mile wide, inch deep approach leaves very little time to reach the levels of depth and complexity associated with PBL. As a result, students learn to memorize the one right answer they will need in order to pass the test, and teachers learn student growth is directly measured by the percentage of rote facts students achieve on a given exam. There's little motivation to dive in and experience meaningful learning in this model of education. Teachers enter survival mode and focus their efforts on rushing through the curriculum to provide students with as many testing experiences as they can. This mindset can overwhelm even the best educators as they consider how to utilize digital tools. Infusion Matrix allows educators to customize individual lesson plans, projects and courses. They also have access to all of the plans, projects and courses created in their content area by other network contributors. This ease of access makes planning and assessment much less time consuming and opens more opportunities for teachers to facilitate the collaborative learning experience.

Marx, Blumenfeld, Krajcik, and Soloway (1997) document issues related to technology in the classroom. They suggest the process of learning to effectively utilize digital tools in the classroom places yet another burden on already overworked teachers. This holds particular relevance because digital tools could be the key to simplifying the PBL process, increasing rigor and relevance in the classroom, and easing much of the stress and pressure placed on educators. Teachers are surrounded by a myriad of digital media and tools, but are often overwhelmed by all of the choices, and simply do not have access to a reliable source for application through best practice. By bringing together the best elements of Web 2.0, Infusion Matrix provides a central location for access to powerful tools of digital production, research and collaborative opportunities - all within an intelligent network that facilitates assessment of individual student growth. Infusion Matrix works for educators, not against them.

PBL is a model that takes time to learn, and the only way to fully understand the power of these elements are when combined, is to take the risk and implement it with students. Administrators must provide opportunities for training, collaboration and implementation. The current educational reform movement from fact based learning, to process based represents the ideal moment for application of PBL. Rote memorization simply does not fully communicate understanding, while measuring growth of understanding can be difficult and takes time; however with the right technology in place one can easily both easily implement projects, and assess student understanding. The teacher can then move from the role of lecturer to facilitator, and the myriad of issues related to technology become much easier to manage. Infusion Matrix has been designed with the language of the educational discipline. Lessons are constructed through the Madeline Hunter lesson format using Understanding by Design, and projects are built using the language of Project Based Learning. IM has been designed by educators, for educators and as a result allows for a more comfortable, flexible transition to the digital classroom.

Our 21st century global economy requires we move from traditional educational methods to allow students opportunities for rigorous, relevant learning experiences. These experiences should not reflect the current educational environment, but instead must immerse students in real world situations where they can access tools of the digital world. Project Based Learning, combined with authentic assessment of understanding represent an ideal model for teaching students how to think. Collaboration, problem solving and creativity are all keys to future success, and Infusion Matrix was developed with these principles in mind, but it was also designed to enhance the educators ability to guide students through experiences that develop these skills with each and every lesson. In order to move beyond our current state of education, teachers must use 21st century tools to work smarter and help students become college and career ready. Infusion Matrix is the educational solution that generates endless solutions.


Marx, R.W., Blumenfeld, P.C., Krajcik,J.S., and Soloway,E. (1997).
Enacting project based science: Challenges for practice and
policy. Elementary School Journal, 97. 341-358

Thomas, J. W. (2000). A review of research on project-based
learning. San Rafael, CA: Autodesk Foundation.

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