Friday, February 10, 2012

Things You Should Know About Challenge Based Learning

Envision a scenario in which you may want to encourage students to move from a general discussion about an important topic or issue to the generation of a solution driven project designed to address the problem or issue in a meaningful manner. An example might be a situation in which learners are supported in their progression from a general discussion about an issue that is personally meaningful to them like the rising cost of higher education to a project designed to deliver more cost efficient learning resources to students through the campus bookstore. Enter Challenge-based learning (CBL).

According to Educause (2012) Challenge- based learning is an instructional initiative developed by Apple for use in K-12 environments. In 2008, a group of 29 teachers working in concert with an educational team from Apple, Inc., conceptualized a learning strategy that would more directly engage learners as scholars, practitioners, social actors, researchers and agents of change (Johnson et al, 2009). So, where in collaborative based problem solving initiatives learners are presented with an already well developed problem to solve, in challenge-based learning (CBL) students are presented with general concepts (or a Big Idea) from which they will generate the challenge(s) they wish to address (Educause, 2012). This project generation process is based on discussion, question generation and research followed by the identification of relevant solutions (i.e. the project), action and assessment.


Blog CBL 1


Initially popular in k-12 environments, CBL is finding greater popularity and use in the Higher Ed Community. For example, Ball state University used CBL to enlist community support around ethanol fuel production and La Sierra University has used CBL to support student led competitions related to entrepreneurship, marketing and customer relations (Educause, 2012).


Blog CBL2


By going to Apple’s Challenge-based learning site and setting up an account, faculty and students may access an array of multimedia resources available to facilitate the CBL process. Participants may choose from existing CBL initiatives to participate in or create their own. Wonderful examples of completed CBL projects can also be found on you tube. To sign up for a free account or to learn more about Challenge-based learning, check out the sources below or go to


Educause (2012). Things You Should Know About Challenge Based Learning. Retrieved from

Johnson, Laurence F.; Smith, Rachel S.; Smythe, J. Troy; Varon, Rachel K. (2009).

Challenge-Based Learning: An Approach for Our Time. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. Retrieved from

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