PBL MOOC: course structure

Participants can sign up for the online course on Problem-Based Learning in four simple steps:

  1. Register
  2. Fill in a profile
  3. Choose a track
  4. Form groups


Each group will work on four relevant PBL problems. Each problem will take two week and will be split up into a brainstorming and a reporting phase. Groups are free to choose how they communicate and collaborate, using tools provided by the MOOC platform or other tools of their choice.

Learning resources and interaction with PBL experts

Key learning resources will be provided with each problem, including one or more mini-lectures by PBL experts from Maastricht University. A longer, annotated list of resources, some open and some in scientific journals, will also be provided for those who wish to delve deeper.

Once a week the instructors of the course will organize Google Hangouts session that participants can join live or watch later. General discussion forums can also be used for questions and comments.


Each problem will contain a description and examples from different domains, such as:

  • healthy body, healthy mind
  • economics, business, trade and management
  • international relations, politics and law
  • arts, literature and philosophy
  • science and technology


After studying the basics of Problem-Based Learning, participants will follow one of three tracks:

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

All tracks will finish with a task focussing on innovating PBL and ways to apply PBL principles in different ways.

Forming groups

After registering, filling in your profile and choosing a track, you’ll also choose how you would like to get into a group, either by:

  1. starting your own group and inviting people you know to join you
  2. looking for interesting participants that you would like to work with and together forming a group
  3. choosing to be automatically assigned to a group

Experience and research shows that it’s easier to commit to a self-chosen group, particularly when the group has some common interests or goals. However, some variety in the team may enrich the discussions. Participants who haven’t joined a group on the day the MOOC starts will be automatically assigned to a group according to characteristics in their profile. During the course, groups that become too small due to drop-outs will be merged with other groups.


Besides the group work, there will be ample opportunity to network with other participants, such as in the general discussion forums, on Twitter or during the weekly Google Hangout sessions organised by the teaching team.