8 transformative tools to elevate project-based learning

Four children in a classroom looking at a laptop together, engaged and focused on the screen.
Navigating the complexities of project-based learning (PBL) can be overwhelming, but you’re not alone. Many educators find balancing the hands-on approach of PBL with structured planning and managing groups challenging. Fear not—we can help!

Navigating the complexities of project-based learning (PBL) can be overwhelming, but you’re not alone. Many educators find balancing the hands-on approach of PBL with structured planning and managing groups challenging. Fear not—we can help!   

Let’s delve into eight innovative tools from Microsoft Education that can simplify your PBL journey, making it both easy-to-manage for you and engaging for your students.  

Microsoft Education tools for PBL excellence

High-quality PBL to deepen knowledge and skills 

In project-based learning, students embark on exciting projects that help them learn important knowledge and skills aligned with their curriculum and emphasize the 4Cs: critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication. Instead of just memorizing facts, PBL takes learning to the next level. By engaging in meaningful projects, students apply what they’ve learned in real and tangible ways, deepening their understanding and teamwork skills.  

Explore how you and your students can achieve success with PBL using tools from Microsoft Education

Copilot: Your AI assistant for education 

Copilot is a dynamic AI-powered tool that can support educators like you in the classroom. Streamlining tasks and personalizing the learning experience, Copilot can help you generate: 

  • Ideas for project topics based on learning objectives and student interest. 
  • Research questions, activities, or resources.  
  • Structure of the project including timelines, goals, and due dates. 
  • Guiding questions to scaffold student inquiry. 
  • Prompts for self-reflection and peer feedback. 
  • Adapted instructional materials for students.  
Demonstration of Copilot providing a project-based learning prompt:.

Copilot can help you generate ideas for PBL topics according to learning objectives and student interest.

Watch the video Meet your AI assistant for education: Microsoft Copilot to learn more about getting started with Copilot. 

Microsoft Teams for Education: Your project management system  

Handling several teams and projects simultaneously can be a lot to manage but Microsoft Teams for Education, a powerful communication app for schools, has you covered. Start by creating a new channel for each student group to help everyone stay focused and informed. It’s like giving each group their own special space. This way, everyone can: 

  • Work together. 
  • Keep files in order. 
  • Manage tasks and important dates.  

Discover how to organize conversations, assignments, and add channels in Microsoft Teams for Education to streamline PBL for your class. Additionally, learn about new features that leverage AI to draft content like rubrics, assignment instructions, and learning objectives, all while keeping the educator in control.

Interface in Microsoft Teams showing where to create groups to organize files, notes, and projects efficiently.

Microsoft Teams channels are a great place to keep student groups organized and focused on their project. 

Enhancing search skills with Search Coach and Search Progress

Being able to find, assess, and share reliable information is a must-have skill for students as they explore research sources online. Search Coach and Search Progress, two complementary Learning Accelerators seamlessly integrated into Microsoft Teams for Education, are all about empowering students to search the web with a keen eye and a critical mind.  

Search Coach is like having a wise guide by their side, helping students develop information literacy skills by asking the internet the right questions and picking out the most trustworthy sources. By providing real-time feedback, Search Coach helps students refine their search queries and find credible sources. 

Search Progress acts like your behind-the-scenes PBL assistant, giving you a peek into how your students are getting on with their online research. It offers valuable insights into their search strategies, helping you understand their paths to finding information. Search Progress lets you track your students’ search journey, seeing how they interact with the resources they find.  

Insights page in Search Coach showing searches by students.

Insights in Search Coach provides a real-time view of student search activity and behaviors, including how many searches were attempted, how frequently they only view the first result, and more. 

To learn more, explore the Search Progress and Search Coach product guide and take the course Develop search strategies with Search Coach and Search Progress from the Microsoft Learn Educator Center.  

Tools for fostering positive classroom dynamics

Keeping track of student progress, making sure everyone works well together, and helping students think about their own learning or giving feedback can feel like a big task! Using tools like Flip, Forms, and Reflect can make it so much easier to keep track of both individual students and group progress.   

Enter the world of Flip, a dynamic web and mobile app that’s free to use. Here students can record, edit, and share video reflections. It’s a fantastic way to engage students in their learning. Whether it’s checking in on their progress or encouraging them to give peer feedback, Flip turns these tasks into fun experiences. Imagine students producing a video diary of their PBL group experience, enhancing both learning and feedback processes.  

Turn to Forms easily create surveys and polls to: 

  • Check-in on how the whole group is doing. 
  • Find out what questions or needs students have. 
  • Gather their thoughts about their own learning in self-reflections.  
  • Collect feedback they have for their classmates.   

These check-ins can help you adapt teaching strategies to meet students’ immediate needs, creating a responsive learning environment.   

Reflect can help you keep a pulse on PBL group dynamics by asking students how they are getting along, collaborating, and distributing workloads. You can ask students how they feel about their teamwork, whether they’re sharing the work fairly, and how they feel about the progress they’ve made. This preemptive approach helps resolve conflicts and ensures a harmonious and inclusive classroom atmosphere where everyone is heard.  

Check-ins page in Reflect showing how you feel about various topics.

With Reflect, you can gain a fuller understanding of the thoughts, feelings, and emotions of your class and then act on any trends that you spot.

Your student innovation showcase

In PBL, the real magic happens when students create something that’s truly their own. This authentic product not only gives their learning purpose but also boosts their confidence and motivation especially when they share their work with others outside their classroom. It’s their chance to shine and show off their unique skills in new and exciting ways. Microsoft has some great PBL tools to help them sparkle even brighter!   

For example, PowerPoint with its Designer feature enables students to quickly create professional-looking presentations in a flash choosing from a bunch of smart design suggestions. Then, they can turn their presentations into videos, sharing their knowledge and hard work with friends, family, and maybe even the whole world.  

We all know talking in front of an audience can be nerve-wracking. That’s where Speaker Coach comes in, acting like a friendly guide through the world of public speaking. Speaker Coach helps students develop good public speaking practices by: 

  • Offering personalized tips and encouragement to polish their speaking skills.  
  • Providing a summary of suggestions. 
  • Suggesting speech refinements like wordiness, euphemisms, and informal language.  

By practicing with Speaker Coach, students receive feedback that’s private and tailored to their abilities, which can help them confidently present their project to the community—sparking conversations and inspiring action.  

Speaker Coach rehearsal report showing data and feedback on fillers, repetitive language, inclusiveness, pace, pitch, and originality.

The rehearsal report in Speaker Coach includes focused feedback on metrics known to influence how an audience perceives a presentation. 

Simplify your next PBL project with Microsoft Education

Simplify your project management with eight PBL tools from Microsoft Education that enhance learning and streamline your process. Discover how these tools can transform your project-based learning approach into a journey of discovery and innovation today. 

For a deeper dive into more Microsoft Education tools to empower you and your students, explore our roundup of Comprehensive quick start guides for Microsoft Education tools.