Project-Based Learning (PBL) typically provides planning students with opportunities to apply knowledge and to synthesize different topics relevant to the context of the area they are studying. As higher education institutions increasingly adjust to online and blended learning, there is a need to reconsider how Project-Based Learning (PBL) can be realized in a fully designed online courses or those utilizing blended learning methods. This paper considers the opportunities and challenges online platforms present to project-based learning by reflecting on the author’s experience with PBL and blended learning techniques he has developed for an urban planning, blended learning course over the last five semesters. The techniques were repeatedly applied and incrementally adjusted from one semester to the next and as needed in response to the instructor’s critical evaluation and students’ feedback. The article reports on lessons learnt and details a semi-structured approach to helping students engage effectively while allowing the instructor to assume more coaching and mentoring roles to facilitate the learning. It also reports on the efficacy of using certain online Apps to increase the effectiveness of Project-Based Learning (PBL) for students’ team projects- both in terms of learning by students, as well as supervising, mentoring and evaluating by the instructor. Students reported benefiting from the approach in several ways including the timely feedback they receive, the personalized pacing and the ability to manage their project as they progress.
Project-Based Learning, Urban Planning Education, Online Approaches, Blended Learning, Team-Based Learning.