Post COVID Response

How Do We Adapt PBL to a Constantly Shifting Environment? Three Suggestions for 2022!

Meet the Maker

Thom Markham, Founder, PBL Global

Hi everyone. Most of you know me as an iLEAD PBL coach, but I maintain a broad practice working with schools in Australia, China, and Europe. That’s given me the opportunity to see how educators in many countries are contending with Covid, remote learning, closures and openings, and the general chaos around schooling these days.

I’m convinced that part of the solution is to adjust our own attitude as teachers by letting go of a traditional classroom-centered outlook and thinking in terms of a more fluid learning ecosystem with learner engagement, parent input, and the remote/face-to-face dynamic always in play. This shift relieves some of the stress of “the classroom isn’t working” in favor of you as a facilitator actively managing an uncertain environment.

There’s a lot of “why” around this theme, but mostly I believe that moving to a more personalized approach to PBL is necessary if we hope to adapt to 2022 and beyond. Not saying it’s easy by the way, but we’re signed up! I’m looking forward to what you think about this (and always happy to discuss and reflect with you).

This Week’s Focus

Driving Question

How can I become more intentional in designing projects for 2022?

Keep in mind that PBL is a set of design principles, not a method cast in stone. There are three distinct ways to adapt PBL for the future and think in terms of the “ecosystem.” 

First, more learning is happening outside of school than inside. It’s called “learning about life,” so learners will experience both trauma and positive breakthroughs. Be prepared for either. Relationships now count more than ever.

Second, exposure to real life dictates that PBL MUST offer authentic challenges. Check your true intention behind your project ideas. Are you designing a project that helps learners grapple with issues that matter or secretly “covering” your curriculum using PBL as a cool tool?

Third, personalize as much as possible. Learners (along with the rest of us) are getting turned inside out by events. Their dreams, aspirations, challenges and character are all being tested. Help them out by honoring each of them individually.


Watch Dayna Laur, co-founder of Project ARC, and one of the most articulate spokespeople for authentic PBL, share her ideas on authentic projects (check the graphic at minute 35 if you don’t want to watch the entire video).


Where will all of this disruption lead us as educators? Click here for more thoughts!

More Magic

Every teacher should know the work of Todd Rose. He showed definitively that NO ONE is average. This video inspires personalization.

Being Makers

Being Makers

Being Makers is a team of change-making leaders from Maker Learning Network and iLEAD Schools focused on project-based learning and social-emotional growth.
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