PBL Online

It's the 10th anniversary of our signature workshop, PBL 101. But times have changed.

About a month ago we at PBLWorks, like everyone else, realized there would not be any face-to-face workshops happening this spring. So our curriculum and online learning teams sprang into action, as they say of superheroes…

We know it's a strange time, and teachers are facing a variety of personal and professional challenges. But in many ways it’s also a good time for learning more about Project Based Learning, as schools plan to reopen and are even rethinking teaching and learning.

On-site trainings may be on hold, but our online workshops are here.

We’re now offering  an online version of our PBL 101 Workshop for school/district teams, as well as at events like PBL World and PBL Institutes

We’re also converting our Sustained Support Visits, which follow the 101, to an online service. Ditto for our workshop for PBL school leaders and our “Project Slice” workshop for our events. 

You’ll find the same features online that have made PBL 101 so effective and well-received by teachers and school leaders.

It’s natural for folks to feel some uncertainty or hesitation about change — the COVID 19 pandemic has been a pretty seismic event — but you’ll find that changing to an online workshop format is much smoother than you might think.

  1. Each workshop follows the same comprehensive agenda – so your learning is grounded in our research-informed, Gold Standard PBL training. (We may have changed the format, but the content is the same!)
  2. You'll walk away with a draft of a standards-based, PBL project unit ready to use in your classroom  – or to adapt for remote learning if need be.
  3. Your facilitator is an expert member of our National Faculty – same as always. They’re current and former classroom teachers and leaders ready to create powerful learning experiences for you.
  4. Most importantly, you’ll still experience the fully interactive, hands-on workshop that models Project Based Learning in action. We don’t do “sit and get” workshops around here, so our online services are no different.

PBL 101 online

You won’t be staring at your computer for three days listening to a presenter...

We long ago learned how to avoid “death by PowerPoint”! 

There will be activities that get you out of your seat, opportunities to have fun with other participants, and time to work on your project design by yourself or even offline. You’ll have moments to reflect on your own teaching practice. You’ll engage in critique protocols and share ideas with others.

An added benefit: the workshop models how teachers can do projects with students in remote learning.

Our team is eager to share some best practices and tips from our own firsthand experience in online collaboration in recent years. With staff located across the country, we use Zoom and other tech tools a lot, and maintain a vibrant culture even when we’re not together in the same room.  

Our PBL 101 models the Project Based Learning process, and our online workshop goes a step further and models how you might facilitate PBL in your own remote classroom.  You’ll learn how to set norms, facilitate inquiry, and foster collaborative conversations online, using tech tools like Zoom, Nearpod, and Google Docs. 

A quick word about the team behind the curtain...

We don’t often focus on our curriculum development team in this blog, but this is a good time to say more.

GinaOur director of curriculum Dr. Gina Olabuenaga, who holds a doctorate in teacher education, has been shepherding and refining PBL 101 for most of its existence. To say that she’s passionate about getting educators started on the path to PBL is probably an understatement. She’s made the 101 her baby. 

So when the call came to move this workshop online, she and her team readily accepted the challenge to bring a deeply collaborative, high-touch experience to life online. "It’s been both intense and exciting, imagining this workshop reaching teachers in a time of need,” says Dr. Olabuenaga. “With this transition, our team has the chance to bring the core tenets of professional development into an online space – while also leveraging the principles of student-centered learning."

RichWorking on the tech side of our shift to an online workshop is our director of online learning and information technology Rich Dixon—who has a long history in the field of education technology and most recently founded a company where he created and oversaw the development of an online professional development solution for K-12 educators. 


Here are two ways to experience the online PBL 101 for yourself.

For individuals or teams from a school/district... we’re offering the online version of the PBL 101 Workshop at PBL World 2020. Our annual event is June 15-18, and participants can also attend our three-day workshop for school/district leaders or the “Project Slice” one-day pre-conference workshop.

PBL World

For school or district teams… You can learn more about how to bring our online workshops to your school or district here, and book  follow-up online Sustained Support Visits by our National Faculty. (If your school is not arranging for a workshop but you still want to attend one, check out our events.)

In case you’re not familiar with our PBL 101 Workshop... 

PBLWorks has been providing teachers with professional development in Project Based Learning for over 20 years. In 2010, we redesigned our introductory PBL workshop and called it PBL 101, and it’s been going strong ever since. We estimate that over 200,000 teachers experienced the workshop between 2010 and 2019. It gets very high marks in participants’ evaluations, with over 95% saying it was “very effective,” and we often hear teachers say it’s “the best professional development experience they’ve ever had.”

John is an education consultant and writer. He was the editor in chief at PBLWorks for many years.