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Manage Learner-led Projects
Manage Learner-led Projects

Scaffold learner-centered projects from kickstart to finish

James Carlson avatar
Written by James Carlson
Updated over a week ago

Learner-led projects are easy to implement in Headrush. As advisor, you can provide a catalyst module as a template to get your learners started designing their own; they can then implement their module using their own ideas, and even build and invite their own team to support their learning journey. Along the way, provide feedback and support as you monitor progress. Finally, engage in the formative and self-assessment process with your learners.

This article summarizes the process of:

Catalyze learner success

With learners who have never led a project themselves, we suggest using a catalyst module to get them started. This module will lead the learners through project design, team formation, creating outcomes, and developing the parts and pieces they will need to be successful.

Once learners have become more confident and familiar with the practices of project-based learning, this type of scaffolding may be less necessary. Assess your learners' level of comfort and use the catalyst module as appropriate.

Your school should have the First-time Student-Led Project module installed already in the Warehouse. If not, download the Module and import the module into your Headrush account. (Learn how to import a module. Note that you must have the Admin permission to import modules.)

Learner creates their Module

Let's walk through an example student-led project, featuring Fahim, who will create his first module in Headrush. Fahim wants to explore machine learning, to develop his competencies in Math and Science--areas he wants to strengthen in his learning journey. Fahim will login to Headrush, click New, then Start New Module:

Learner Populates the Overview

Now that Fahim has a new module created, he can populate the Overview with information about his project. Fahim will write the project's critical question, vision, and outcomes. He will choose the assessment targets that fit his project, and assemble his team:

Once the Overview is complete, Fahim can start building out his tasks. For this, he'll use the Task Board to create both the stages of his project and map out the specific tasks he'll perform to achieve it.

In Headrush, the Task Board is the centerpiece of learning throughout the project, giving the learner and the advisor a clear view of progress and evidence collected. Learners like Fahim can structure the task board around the specific requirements and elements of their project.

Fahim has an outline of what he needs to do for his Machine Learning project:

  1. Choose an image to which he wants to apply the style of another image

  2. Choose an image which will be the source of the style

  3. Find an online service that provides machine learning style transfer between images

  4. Apply the style transfer

  5. Submit the source image and result image as evidence

  6. Submit a write-up on style transfer, explaining the process and how machine learning makes it possible

In his case, the default Headrush "To Do", "In Progress", and "Complete" phases provide a good start, but he wants to create another phase for tasks he wants his advisor to review:

He can now start populating the tasks. (Read more about the Task Board.)

This is a flexible process for the learner; Fahim can organize the project as he sees fit, and supply additional detail for each task as needed in the task card's detail view:

Finally, Fahim sends the Module to his Advisor for review, by setting the status of the module appropriately:

The Advisor Perspective

Now that the Module has been designed and created by the learner, the Advisor can review it. Our walkthrough will now change perspectives to that of the Advisor, so we can see how easy Headrush makes it to monitor progress and work as the learner completes the module.

The Dashboard view shows the Module authored by Fahim right at the top:

The advisor can now open the Module, and make suggestions and comments to support the learner:

Headrush will automatically notify the learner about comments and questions left by the advisor. Similarly, Headrush will notify advisors about learner questions and comments. All this is managed from the Dashboard. (Learn how to get a Bird's Eye View of a Group of Learners.)

This advisor realizes that Fahim might have missed a relevant Learning Target, and so adds it to the Module:

The Advisor is ready to pass control of the Module back to the Learner, who can kick-off the project and get to work by setting the module status to Active:

Monitoring and Supporting Progress

As the Learner works on the Module, submitting Evidence, and discussing the work with their collaborators and the Advisor, Headrush brings all the status updates and information together in the Dashboards of both the Learner and Advisor. This eliminates confusion and reading updates in multiple systems, updating separate spreadsheets, and later back-tracking to compile information created along the way.

Let's fast-forward a few days and see how the Module is progressing from Fahim's point of view:

Fahim has advanced one Task to the For Review phase, so now as an Advisor we can take a look at the submitted Evidence. An easy way to get to Fahim's work is to click on the notification icon in the upper right, and find the update about Fahim's evidence submission. This takes us directly to the relevant Evidence:

Of course this is just one of the ways in which the Advisor can review submitted Evidence and provide feedback. The Headrush dashboard provides multiple ways to filter activity and updates from Learners.

Fahim also has one convenient perspective for updating his Tasks and submitting Evidence using the Evidence view of the Task Board:

Supporting Self-Assessment

Giving learners the power to assess their own work is a core belief at Headrush, and a foundational philosophy in the design of the product. Headrush gives learners a place to share reflections and a clear view of the learning targets they will meet. Here Fahim finalizes his project and shares his reflection:

Now that Fahim has provided his self-reflection, it's time to take the Advisor's point of view and provide an assessment against the targets, assign credits as appropriate, and share reflections that help Fahim in his learning journey:

Put the Learner at the Center

This Learning Scenario explored a student-led project, putting a Learner in charge of their own progress and the design of their project, and illustrating how an advisor can lend support and guidance along the way. The design of Headrush keeps everyone focused on the learning tasks and feedback process, rather than on the administration of the details. Discussions, evidence, and assessment can be shared with a few clicks, which keeps mental overhead at a minimum.

Real-world Learner-led Project Example

This short video, told in a learner's words, explores how a project-based school uses Headrush to enable a learner-led project such as that described in this article.

Resources Used in this Scenario

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