Support for Going Online with PBL

Across the US and many corners of the world, faculty are being asked to teach a different way. As we close our physical classrooms and move to virtual learning environments, many of us are uniting to learn together.

We’re learning, too. We invite you join us as we share resources, tools, and strategies we’ve come across that we think might be useful. PBL is about authentic learning and the connections among us, as students, as teachers, and as community. If you have resources to share or specific ways we might support you, please reach out to us.

Opportunities to Engage in Crowdsourced Research
Some faculty might consider replacing face-to-face projects with virtual research experiences that are still authentic in that they contribute to actual ongoing research. Here are a few online communities where you can find these kinds of projects for college students:

Scistarter lets you search for citizen science projects by age group, as well as by topic using the Project Finder tool. Registering allows you access to an automatically updated dashboard to help keep track of engagement and contributions.

Zooniverse is the world’s largest and most popular platform for people-powered research, with 1.6 million registered users contributing to online projects spanning the arts, humanities, and STEM. There is a curated list of resources by age group for those joining the site as a response to the current shift to online learning to help new users acclimate.

iNaturalist, a joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society, focuses on collaborative projects featuring the natural world. The site has a useful teacher’s guide and several video tutorials for orientation to their online community.

The National Geographic provides a roundup of citizen science projects through the classroom resources section of their website.

Simulations for Online Learning
For those looking to replace lab courses or provide virtual interactive learning experiences, simulations might be the way to go. Check out these (mostly) free options.

PhET Interactive Solutions at the University of Colorado Boulder provides free simulations in physics, chemistry, biology, early science, and math, searchable by grade level. If you “Browse Activities” in the Teaching section of the site, you can search by language, type of learning activity (eg, demo, lab, guided activity), and other pedagogical features.

The Council on Foreign Relations provides immersive learning experiences with corresponding teaching resources for interdisciplinary lessons on global era issues (eg, climate change, cybersecurity) and regions of the world. World101 aims to help users understand the issues, forces, and actors that shape our world.

LearningEdge is a free resource from MIT’s Sloan School offering a set of management simulation games, some of which can be played en Español or em Português. Simulations are organized into three topics – strategy, sustainability, and system dynamics – with teaching resources available for each simulation.

Labster boasts a “million-dollar lab, one click away,” offering simulated labs in biology, chemistry, engineering, medicine, and physics, along with teaching resources. Pricing information can only be accessed after registering with the site.

Connect As Experts, With Experts
As we face unprecedented requests to move rapidly online, faculty and professionals are coming together to support one another. We have found the following online communities helpful in navigating in sharing experiences, seeking advice, and figuring out how to best work with and for our students.

The Online Learning Collective is a grassroots group of 15,000+ members (and counting!) sharing advice, resources, experiences, and camaraderie. They can be found in a public Facebook Group called The Spring 2020 Online Learning Collective, on a corresponding website, and on a Youtube Channel.

ASEE has a volunteer database of specialists with expertise in online/distance learning. Applications to join as a specialist are due April 1.

Teaching College-Level Arts and Humanities Online During a Pandemic is a private Facebook Group of ~600 educators. Members are sharing resources and seeking advice, particularly around creating dynamic human interaction via online platforms.

PBL Best Practices
This infographic Best-Practices PBL Online provides 8 key elements to consider in crafting good online projects for your students.