Challenge Based Learning

Creative Commons by-nc-nd 2012 Alline Sada, M.Ed - Apple Distinguished Educator - Mexico 2011

I’ve heard of project based learning and problem based learning but challenge based learning (CBL) is one you might not often hear of.  Reading through the website APPitic tonight I came across a page on CBL.  The page provides the above image and also list apps that assist in the implementation of CBL under the categories of launching a challenge, from challenge to solution, solution implementation and publishing and sharing.  These stages/phases are not dissimilar from project based learning, however, the language is perhaps different.

Challenge Based Learning according to is…

is an engaging multidisciplinary approach to teaching and learning that encourages learners to leverage the technology they use in their daily lives to solve real-world problems. Challenge Based Learning is collaborative and hands-on, asking students to work with peers, teachers, and experts in their communities and around the world to ask good questions, develop deep subject area knowledge, identify and solve challenges, take action, and share their experience.

The site also provides some great resources under its Toolkit menu that will help facilitate CBL in the classroom.  My school has a strong focus on PBL so I will be implementing that in my teaching practice, however, I do not think CBL is entirely irrelevant from PBL and certainly the apps they suggest on APPitic for implementing CBL are going to be useful.

This presentation from Jennifer Dorman from unpacks CBL and what’s interesting to note is that it mentions the Buck Institute’s work on project based learning as a place to learn about CBL.  Can it be deduced from this then that PBL and CBL are one in the same?  Just different language?  When the presentation starts to unpack the CBL design, it provides a really great scaffold for planning and setting up CBL in the classroom.  It also provides quality examples of these in practice.

Whether a teacher is intentionally integrating CBL or PBL in the classroom for the specific purpose of facilitating CBL or PBL, or whether they are simply teaching their day-to-day lessons, there are elements and practices in CBL and PBL that can inform and facilitate great teaching always.  Teachers are guided by outcomes, content and skills that their students need to learn and I think planning a lesson or unit around a big question focuses the lesson and when written the right way, it can help communicate to the students what the intended outcome is and when the question is answered they have achieved their lesson outcome.


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