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Challenge Based Learning

Challenge Based Learning (CBL) provides an efficient and effective framework for learning while solving real-world challenges. The framework fuels collaboration between students, teachers, families, and community members to identify big ideas, ask thoughtful questions, and identify, investigate and solve challenges. This approach helps students gain deep subject area knowledge and develop the skills necessary to thrive in an ever-changing 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 ACOT2 design principles, Apple, Inc. worked with exemplary educators to develop and test the CBL framework. Over the past year Digital Promise, home to a number of the original development team including Karen Cator, Marco Torres and Mark Nichols, has been working with the Apple Education team to update the framework and to assume management of the community and resources.

The CBL Framework is divided into three interconnected phases: Engage, Investigate, and Act. Each phase includes activities that prepare participants to move to the next phase. Supporting the entire process is an ongoing process of documentation, reflection, and sharing.

Engage – Through essential questioning, learners move from an abstract “big idea” to a concrete and actionable challenge.

Investigate – The learners plan and participate in a journey that builds the foundation for solutions and addresses academic requirements.

Act – Evidence-based solutions are developed, implemented with an authentic audience, and then evaluated based on the results.

CBL 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.

cbl.digitalpromise.org