Now more than ever before, employers favor skills over degrees, and the skills learned through project-based learning mirror what employers are looking for.
As we posted in our last blog, the 4th Industrial Revolution is reshaping technology, and 42% of the core skills needed to perform existing jobs will change. A massive upskill effort will be needed to reskill more than 1 billion people by 2030 to get them ready for the new world of work.
Project-based learning can help provide training that is focused on teaching critical thinking — figuring out all the steps needed to create a solution.
As far as teaching modalities go, it offers numerous benefits to the students taking part.
What’s Project-Based Learning?
Project-based learning structures curriculum around individually separate and distinct projects. The key focus of project-based learning is that students learn by doing.
By presenting students with multi-step problems to solve or asking them complex questions, they’re encouraged to think broadly and creatively.
Project-based learning often requires students to use multiple learning techniques to succeed, such as iterative learning (trial and error), research, and logical deduction. These different techniques are not only used when working on projects, but are also applicable to your role once you enter the workforce.
Now, let’s look at five reasons why project-based learning helps students master skills.
#1. Cultivate Curiosity
Project-based learning requires you to ask questions and seek answers both independently and collaboratively. Curiosity is at the heart of deep learning, which drives project-based learning.
Large projects frequently require a good amount of research. Answering the who, what, why, and how is all part of the research process, so as a project-based learner you’re encouraged to get curious and find out as much information as possible. This helps you to ensure you have a complete picture for what you’re doing.
#2. Hone Non-Technical Skills
When you engage in project-based learning, you need to employ critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and problem-solving in difficult situations — all of which are valuable and sought-after skills.
While employers are looking for candidates who possess strong technical skills, non-technical skills are also critical to success in any role. Being able to cite experience and examples of project-based learning shows recruiters that you have what it takes to be a well-rounded employee.
As Udacity student Soumya Ranjan explains, “The projects I worked on really helped me to build a strong resume, and the response I received after that was very good.”
#3. Prepare Students for Actual Workplace Scenarios
We all know it’s one thing to learn something in theory, but quite another to actually put it into practice. Project-based learning is focused on providing hands-on opportunities to understand the concepts you’re learning and how to apply them.
Think about a project to build an app. You may have learned the steps needed to build the app, but unless you’ve actually executed on a project like that, you won’t necessarily know what the possible pitfalls are, how to identify potential issues, or how to resolve them. Project-based learning means you’ve actually done the work and will have valuable lessons learned to share with potential employers and to apply in future roles.
#4. Provide Proof of Understanding
It’s far easier for a potential employee to demonstrate a solid understanding of a concept when they can provide real-world examples. Project-based learning allows you to build a portfolio that shows your competence.
As Udacity student Daria shares, “I learned essential tools and obtained crucial experience through completing projects. This built my portfolio and helped me attract recruiters.”
Plus, in an interview scenario, a potential employee can present past projects and walk through the problem, the challenges, and the solution — showing you have a solid grasp of the skills needed to do the job.
#5. Gain Quality Feedback
The ability to receive and implement feedback is a key component of being successful at school, at home, and in life in general. When you’re doing project-based learning, you get feedback at regular intervals. Having continuous feedback not only helps solidify learning, but also acclimates you to expect feedback as part of the process.
Feedback is a key part of the project-based learning process for Udacity students. When asked how their experience with project-based learning impacted them, Jobin explains, “Udacity armed me with skills to develop models, and gave me an innovative experience with quick, high-quality, recurring feedback.”
It’s important to note that feedback provided during project-based learning helps reinforce perseverance. Sometimes the feedback you receive means you need to change course, but you keep going until the project is done.
Choose Education That Fosters Project-Based Learning
While project-based learning is only one part of the learning process, it could be argued that the benefits to students, and in turn, benefits to the future employers of those students, far outweigh any possible drawbacks. By choosing an education program that focuses on project-based learning, you’re helping ensure you have a diverse, marketable set of skills that will get you noticed.
Interested in learning new skills with a focus on project-based learning?
Check out the Udacity Program Catalog to see what’s possible.