Problem-Based Learning: Principles and Design

Combining small-group, collaborative learning of Problem- based learning with the openness and flexibility of a MOOC

At Maastricht University, we’re inviting teachers, course designers, professionals in education, and the generally curious to join us in an experimental online course on Problem-Based Learning (PBL). You can learn about PBL by practicing PBL in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). You get to learn how to apply PBL in your own educational setting, and we get to learn how to apply PBL to a MOOC setting.

What you’ll learn

During the eight-week course, you’ll study four relevant PBL problems with examples from different domains. In small online groups, you’ll discuss what you’ve learned and how you can apply it in your own educational setting.

After covering the basics, you’ll follow one of three modules:

  • the role of the tutor in PBL
  • designing PBL problems and courses
  • assessment and organisational aspects of PBL

The course will give you access to our expertise gained from more than 40 years of innovating PBL and applying it in new ways. Our experienced professors, teachers and PBL researchers act as facilitators to help you learn how you can apply PBL to your learning environment! 

Sign-ups for this course have closed, as the course has started.


What we’ll learn

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are rapidly increasing in popularity. However, as they’re aimed at attracting large numbers of participants, interaction with the teacher(s) is often limited. Furthermore, many MOOCs are criticized for lacking sound instructional design and often struggle with drop-out rates of up to 95%. There is a need for alternative ideas stressing learner participation and engagement. So what if we could combine the small-group collaborative learning ideas from Problem-Based Learning (PBL) with the openness and flexibility of a MOOC? That’s what UM aims to do with this course. To innovate PBL, we need to stretch it to its limits. We will use the participant experiences, feedback and data from this MOOC for our continued PBL research and development.