Challenge Based Learning

Cindy Eggebrecht  |  July 11, 2018  |  Space Design

What is Challenge Based Learning and why are more and more schools moving to this way of learning?

Challenge Based Learning is not new, but it's starting to be implemented in more and more schools throughout the world, and it's easy to understand why. Digital Promise, a research firm dedicated to infusing the latest learning science research into the development and improvement of products and programs to advance public education and improve learning, explains Challenge Based Learning and the effects it has on learners - giving learners a passion for learning and a framework to help them solve challenges small and large.

Read the below, and share your thoughts - Why are not all schools moving to this way of learning? 

Challenge Based Learning (CBL) provides an efficient and effective framework for learning while solving real-world Challenges. The framework is collaborative and hands-on, asking all participants (students, teachers, families, and community members) to identify big ideas, ask good questions, identify and solve challenges, gain deep subject area knowledge, develop 21st century skills, and share their experience with the world.

CBL emerged from the “Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow—Today” (ACOT2) project initiated in 2008 to identify the essential design principles of the 21st century learning environment. Starting with the ACOT2design principles, Apple, Inc. worked with exemplary educators to develop and test Challenge Based Learning.

CBL is an adaptable framework that is constantly adapting and evolving. With each implementation new ideas surface, the framework is reviewed and the model evolves.

Challenge Based Learning provides:

  1. A flexible and customizable framework.
  2. A scalable model with multiple points of entry.
  3. A process that places all learners in charge and responsible for the learning.
  4. An authentic environment for meeting academic standards and deep learning.
  5. A focus on global ideas with local challenges and solutions.
  6. An authentic connection between academic disciplines and real world experience.
  7. A framework to develop a wide range of 21st century skills.
  8. Purposeful use of technology.
  9. The opportunity for learners to make a difference now.
  10. A way to document and assess both the learning process and product.
  11. An environment for deep reflection on teaching and learning.

Key Ideas

Challenge Based Learning builds on the foundation of experiential learning and leans heavily on the wisdom of a long history of progressive education. The framework is informed by innovative practices in education, media, technology, entertainment, recreation, the workplace and society.

Threaded through the Challenge Based Learning framework are a series of foundational ideas. Familiarity with these concepts provides deeper insight into the process, opportunities for discussion, and support for implementation.

  • Everyone is a Learner. Ubiquitous access to information and technology provides the opportunity to break down the traditional hierarchical structure of schools and allows all participants to become both teachers and learners.
  • Moving beyond the four walls of the classroom. Involving all of the community members in the process expands resources, creates opportunities for authentic learning and moves the responsibility of education to the larger community.
  • Learner Inspired, Directed, and Owned. Meaningful connections are made between content and the lives of Learners.
  • Challenges provoke. Situations or activities that create a sense of urgency and spur action.
  • Content and 21st century skills. Authentic learning experiences foster deep content knowledge and help Learners to organically develop a wide range of 21st century skills.
  • Boundaries of Adventure. Boundaries are provided to guide the way and provide freedom for Learners to take ownership of the process.
  • Space and Freedom to Fail. A safe space is provided for all learners to think creatively, try new ideas, experiment, fail, receive feedback and try again. This iterative process is built into all of the phases of the framework.
  • Slowing for Critical and Creative Thinking. To ensure full participation and to provide opportunities for deep thinking, the learning process needs to be intentionally slowed down at times.
  • Authentic and Powerful Use of Technology. Technology is used to research, communicate, organize, create, evaluate, document and persuade.
  • Focus on Process and Product. The process of getting to the solution is valued as much as the solution.
  • Documentation and Storytelling. During each step of the challenge process, the learners document and publish using text, video, audio and pictures.
  • Reflection. Throughout the process, learners continuously reflect on the content and the process.

To learn more about Challenge Based Learning visit the Toolkit where you will find StoriesResourcesResearch, Challenges and the new CBL User Guide.


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