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630: Projects

What project are you working on?


Full episode script

Before I was in the corporate world, project was a word that I often threw around to describe pretty much anything I was working on at the time. It could have been learning to make no-bake cookies, surviving middle school, or asking questions.

 

Now, I’ve discovered that the intuitive use of “project” wasn’t quite in line with how projects are approached in education and the corporate world. There’s a very specific definition of project — and doing more of them may not be a bad thing for any of us.

 

According to everyone I could find from the Project Management Professionals study guide to NASA, project is a short-term effort, outside of normal efforts, with some kind of defined goal.

 

Which seems simple, but is really pretty intense. First of all, because many of the things that some of us would call a project we undertake with no specific goal in mind. There’s also plenty of long-term projects that are really a lot more than that — they’re attempting to achieve multiple goals. Or it’s what we do everyday, rather than something temporary and unusual.

 

And really, those short term and defined goal efforts may be one of the best ways to learn. Dig through Edutopia and you’ll find dozens of good arguments for project based learning. The idea is that by encouraging learners of any age to take what they have learned and what they need to learn and applying it along the way towards a goal creates a learning environment that is more flexible, more applicable to how knowledge will actually be used, and creates experiences that make knowledge stick much more than rote memorization.

 

Which, in my mind, makes sense. While learning for learning’s sake is great, when you have some kind of end goal in mind (no matter how important it may or may not be), it’s easier to find a reason to dig in and really learn something new.

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.