Online Course - PBL Jumpstart: Design

Strengthen your project design skills by adapting a project from our project library based on your context and the unique needs of your students.
PBL Jumpstart Design

Course Description

This course is designed to guide teachers in adapting one of the standards-based projects from our Project Library to meet the needs of their students and unique classroom context. Participants will become stronger project designers as they gain grounding and/or a deeper understanding of the Essential Project Design Elements. This course was formerly called Adapting Your First Project.


Cost: $399


Summer: Mondays, July 1 - August 23, 2024
Fall: Mondays, September 9 - November 1, 2024

Time: 6:30-8:00 p.m. (Central Time)

Optional graduate-level professional development credit will be available through Southern New Hampshire University for an additional $120 fee. More information about credits is available at the first course session.

Who should take this course?

This course is ideal for teachers who are just getting started with Project Based Learning and/or those looking to learn how to adapt existing Gold Standard projects for their students. It’s also a great opportunity for those who want to learn through a combination of self-paced learning and weekly facilitated sessions.

This course is also a good fit for teachers seeking to advance their PBL expertise and those who wish to earn optional graduate-level professional development credit.

Course outcomes

  • Understand why focusing on the Essential Design Elements for Gold Standard PBL when tailoring a project will lead to meaningful learning for your students.
  • Access a library of Gold Standard project examples to inspire your instructional design.
  • Use best practices for PBL planning to adapt an existing project to meet the unique needs of your students and community.
  • Improve your project design skills through peer critique and reflection.
  • Anticipate challenges and plan for successful project implementation.

The essentials

  • Includes full access to the PBLWorks Project Library with over 80 adaptable, standards-based projects across subject areas and grade levels (K-12).
  • Instruction: Facilitated 90-minute weekly sessions and self-paced, independent work

What to expect?

Course Outline

Week 1:  Introduction to Gold Standard PBL. Create a welcoming learning community with your fellow course participants and learn about the Essential Design Elements for Gold Standard Project-Based Learning. Required facilitated session on Zoom.

Week 2: Engage Your Students with a Challenging Problem or Question. Adapting an existing Gold Standard project to meet your needs is a great way to start PBL. Choose from one of the many Gold Standard projects in the PBLWorks Project Library. Optional studio time on Zoom.

Week 3: Sustaining Inquiry from Start to Finish. Following the project path for PBL, you can use the structure to help guide student inquiry throughout the project. Optional studio time on Zoom.

Week 4: Planning for Milestones with Voice and Choice. Use the Project Planner to adapt your project, and be sure to consider how you will amplify student voice and choice at each milestone. Required facilitated session on Zoom.

Week 5: Authentic Connections. Continue to adapt your project while considering ways to incorporate authentic experiences for students, including how to do this using technology. Optional studio time on Zoom.

Week 6: Assessing and Reflecting. Adapt assessment strategies to keep learning on track from start to finish projects. Optional studio time on Zoom.

Week 7: Critique and Revision. Fine-tune your adapted project by building opportunities for feedback throughout the project. Optional studio time on Zoom.

Week 8: Exhibition of Learning. Showcase and reflect on your learning in our final session. Required facilitated session on Zoom.

Additional Course Details

  • Learning Documents & Materials

    Required Text: None (all required materials are provided online)

    In addition, each module includes:

    • Background building, via short readings, video case studies, interactive learning activities
    • Formative assessment (either for self-assessment or shared with facilitator), including focused discussions, weekly reflection, open response prompts, quizzes, and peer critique.
    • Collaborative learning, e.g., guided discussion with subset of classmates, collaborative response to scenarios
  • Assignments
    • Weekly journal entry in response to specific reflection prompt. Journal is submitted as final deliverable.
    • Final product will be presented in Week 8 during a synchronous session and contributed to an idea bank
    • Peer assessments, based on rubric for final product
  • Technical Requirements

    A Computer for Each Participant: Desktop, laptop, Chromebook, or Surface PRO 4 or newer are ideal. (An iOS or Android tablet is insufficient as the primary device.)

    • Speakers (either external or internal) or headphones/earbuds 
    • Webcam (either external or internal)

    Internet Connection

    • An internet connection – broadband wired or wireless
    • 3Mbps/3Mbps (upload/download) – Not sure? Check here. 

    Operating Systems

    • Mac OS 10.10 or newer, Windows 10 or newer, and Chrome OS Browsers
    • Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge are recommended.


    • Zoom Video Conferencing program with the latest updated (Download for free here
    • Google Docs via a Google-enabled account. (Sign up for free here)


Adapting a Project



Winter: Mondays, January 8 - March 1, 2024
Summer: Mondays, July 1 - August 23, 2024
Fall: Mondays, September 9 - November 1, 2024
Time: 6:30-8:00 p.m. (Central Time)

Register Today!