Challenge-based learning (CBL) is a framework for learning while solving real-world Challenges. The framework is collaborative and hands-on, asking all participants (learners, teachers, families, and community members) to identify Big Ideas, ask good questions, discover and solve Challenges, gain in-depth subject area knowledge, develop 21st-century skills, and share their thoughts with the world.
Hand in hand with any challenge-based learning methodologies, is innovation and creativity. The WEF report on Defining New Models of Education for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (World Economic Forum: Schools of the Future Report 2019) makes a similar point when it calls for a 'focus on skills required for innovation, including complex problem-solving, analytical thinking, creativity and systems analysis'. The interplay between these skills is at the heart of challenge-based learning.
The challenge-based learning framework emerged from the Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow—Today project initiated in 2008 by Apple, Inc. to identify the essential design principles of a 21st-century learning environment. Challenge-based learning builds on the foundation of experiential learning. The framework is informed by innovative ideas from education, media, technology, entertainment, recreation, the workplace, and society.
A Challenge-based learning framework is organised into three phases:
- Engage – Through a process of Essential Questioning, the Learners move from an abstract Big Idea to a concrete and actionable Challenge.
- Investigate – All 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.
Verizon Innovative Learning Schools - Digital Promise
The Knowledge Society was started by two brothers, Navid and Nadeem Nathoo who wanted to create what they wish they had growing up:
"we are building a global community of the world's most curious, driven, and ambitious people that want to make an impact. We've completely redesigned what education and human development looks like because we believe that our current systems are not maximising human potential. We want to accelerate people to solve problems through working with leading organisations, starting their own companies or through research and invention.
"At Kabakoo, collaborative project-based experiences rooted in the realities of learners are the cornerstone of the learning process.
Learners choose the projects they want to work on. This experiential and collaborative approach allows to make good use of everyone's passion and thus improves not only the project outcomes but also the individual learning objectives.
The socio-cultural anchoring of the collaborative projects leads the participants to regularly go outside the campus' walls. This enables the learners to deal with the different fault lines on the ground such as languages barriers and territorial segregation, and depending on the projects, to accumulate endogenous knowledge gathered on the ground."
Challenge-based learning is one way of structuring quests or projects. While it is very similar to project-based learning, it is listed here separately as the framework is broader than project-based design. Challenge-based learning builds on the foundation of experiential learning.