We are intrigued by all sorts of new learning models.  The one that we are working the most with now is challenge-based learning.  This is broader than project-based learning, which richly helps groups of learners learn by doing and making.  This also is broader than service learning, which is working in and with the community.

We are exploring and building with partners new opportunities in challenge-based learning.  Dr. Johnson enjoyed many years of a version of this in the Applied Management Research program at UCLA.  Teams of learners not only enriched their experiences through project-based learning and service learning in the community with six-month problem solving projects with companies and organizations, they faced a challenge together.  Instead of coming to a certain learning objective with certain inputs, they had to research, diagnose, interpret, and make judgements together on what the real question or problem was.  Each challenge is unique and builds mental muscle strength for evaluating and exploring, not just wrestling with a problem.

Community-based learning groups are also focusing on challenge-driven learning.  FIRST Robotics (www.first.org) lays out a task-driven challenge at the beginning of each year at each of their division levels and groups of student creators have to hypothesize, balance, evaluate, and wrestle with competing elements of their interpretation of the challenge.  Groups of students in Pittsburgh are working with challenges in the HIVE program across the city.

Where can challenge-driven learning take you and your peers?