Congratulations, you’ve just officially signed up for the How to PBL Online Crash Crash for Teachers! This self-paced online course will help you to facilitate project-based learning for students using remote learning technology. 
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Welcome to the How to PBL Online: A Crash Course for Teachers!

Congratulations, you’ve just officially signed up for the How to PBL Online Crash Crash for Teachers! This self-paced online course will help you to facilitate project-based learning for students using remote learning technology. 

The essential questions for this course are: 

  • How do we do authentic project-based learning at a distance? 
  • How do we offer online academic and social-emotional support for students, particularly for our most vulnerable students? 

This course is designed with the idea that to facilitate PBL well, you need to do the project yourself, first! Each email will guide you in developing a specific aspect of your own online PBL curricula, and provides examples from a sample online interdisciplinary project along with suggested resources and activities for students. 

By completing all lessons and activities during the course, you will create a full project outline along with key activities and vital resources to launch your own online PBL experience. 

We strongly recommend that you complete all of the coursework and assignments for this course before introducing your online project to your students.

Course Deliverables:

  • A project outline for an online PBL curriculum that uses your own subject and grade level content
  • An assessment and communication plan to support online project management
  • A list of 10 digital resources related to your own online PBL curriculum
  • A collection of 7 PBL activities from Launch to Exhibition
  • A completed model of the final product that your students will create

Course Introduction

Click this link to go directly to a transcription for this video

Hi, my name is Kay Flewelling and I’m the lead designer of the course. I was one of the founding Humanities teachers at High Tech High Chula Vista, and now I am a doctoral candidate and an adjunct professor in the School of Leadership and Educational Sciences at the University of San Diego

One of the sections that you will see in every email is where I share how I designed an online project called “Happy Science”. In this project, my students explored different perspectives to create their own philosophy of happiness and collected data on their own happiness experiments to create data art inspired by the Dear Data project by information designers Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec. 

What Will You Need?

All that this course requires is: access to the Internet, and maybe some help from some peers. The internet will help you access the different files presented in each email. Meanwhile, some willing peers can provide you with feedback on the various assignments you receive in each email lesson.

Prerequisite: Familiarity With Project-Based Learning
While this course does walk you through some essential aspects of project-based learning, the main purpose of this course is to support you to apply PBL concepts in an online format. As such, to be able to complete all of the activities in this course, you need to have an idea of a project or PBL curriculum to start with.

If you’re new to PBL but you have an idea of what you’d like to try, we have optional resources to support you. Your PBL idea might be something you’ve done in class, an idea from a colleague or one you found online, or it might be the seed of your idea for a PBL unit. Once you have an idea (and it certainly does not need to be perfect!!) we can help you bring that online.There are many great resources on the PBL Design Kit and at the High Tech High Unboxed website to help you get an idea for a project (both are included with this email's resource section on

If you don’t have your idea yet, check out the provided resources. Then, once you have your idea, dive into this course!

This course also incorporates a variety of online collaboration strategies using the Google suite of products such as Docs, Hangouts, Calendar, Chat, and Gmail. If you are not familiar with these tools, you can get specific support for these products by visiting


This self-paced online course is meant to give you an overview on the essential aspects of online project-based learning. To do that, you will receive nine email lessons, laid out below. You’ve actually already started the course. How do we know? You’re reading this! 

How long is this course?

This course is designed to be done at your own pace. The course has a suggested amount of time listed on its course landing pages under the “Course Stats” heading. We feel that you should set aside the suggested time in order to complete the course. These hours take into account things like facilitating classroom discussions, teaching basic concepts needed to complete each assignment, and making time to continually discuss your work with colleagues and friends.

Do I have to complete coursework?

That’s completely up to you! This free version of the course is being completed by you through email. Because this version is set up in this manner we have no way to follow-up to make sure you actually do each assignment.

How do I get the next email?

We’ve already started sending it to you! Whenever you get an email and open it we will send you the next email in the series so that you have it as soon as you finish your work. If you just want to get all the emails before starting any of the work just open all the emails as they come and the subsequent emails will be sent. Please note there may be a 10-20 minute delay between emails sent after an email has been opened.

Can I hire High Tech High to facilitate a course experience for me and/or a group (students, staff, friends)?

We are launching this service in the near future. If you are interested in receiving news about this option please fill out this form.

My question isn’t answered here - what do I do?

These questions, and other questions like them, are answered extensively in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section of If you run into issues that are not covered in the FAQ section of our website please email us for help by visiting our Contact page.

Emails Overview


1. Introduction to the      Course


2. Project


3. Project MGMT &          Assessment

This email! Introduces the course design and outcomes.   Introduces considerations for planning virtual project launches.   Presents strategies for using learning technology for grouping and managing online workflow.

4. Ideation &
   Essential Questions


5. Core Academic


6. Drafting, Critique,
    & Revision

Resources and planning for early project activities that invite students to connect ideas to the project topic.   Considerations for how to use digital tools to scaffold core academic, skills, content, and dispositions.   How to facilitate the drafting and revision process using digital tools and virtual critique.

7. Exhibition


8. Reflection


9. Conclusion

Introduces considerations for planning virtual exhibitions of learning.   Presents some ideas for inviting student reflection using digital tools and group work.   You have completed the course. Look for a surprise inside!

Tips for Facilitating Online Projects

Put accessibility at the forefront of your thinking.
Just like in-person classrooms, online classrooms have students with diverse strengths, challenges, skills, and abilities. To be truly accessible, your project design needs to presume that students may have little or no access to computers, may have no or limited data connectivity, may be experiencing trauma in their domestic living situation, may have responsibilities for caretaking family members, and/or may not feel fully capable of reading and understanding the material for a variety of reasons. 
Create thoughtful options for varied student engagement.
Plan for different levels of student engagement to ensure that students have access to a wealth of resources, but also have flexibility with how and when they engage with course activities and media. 
Anchor your project with a final product.
Similar to in-person project-based learning, assignments will be more accessible if they follow a narrative curve that culminates with a final product that students present to their peers and a potential panel of experts, or give to an authentic user. Define your final product clearly within the description of the course.


The resources for this section that you can reference before you dive into the course. You can review these materials in full by going to the course landing page.

Unboxed Cards Project Highlights
If you’re feeling stuck for a project idea, check out these project cards for some inspiration.


HTPBLO Digital Project Binder
Create a copy of this PDF to use as an organizer for all of the activities you complete throughout this course.

In Conclusion…

Although it will take some examination, engaging with How to PBL Online will help you consider how to structure online learning for your students. By signing up for this course, you’re already one step closer to leading a more effective online project-based learning experience.

Next Steps

You’re at the end of this section of the course! Check your inbox for the next email.
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