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The ACE 
Framework

A guide for decision-making and professional development planning during times of crisis.

Project-Based Learning

Resources for classes where students learn through the design and implementation of large-scale and/or real-world projects.

Complications & Connections

Complications: Project-based courses may be challenging to translate into an online or HyFlex modality. First of all, group work means professors need to be comfortable with designing technology-based collaborative opportunities. And second of all, true project-based learning means curriculum must be at least somewhat emergent; this can complicate much online-oriented instructional design, which tends to focus on backwards design, competency-based linear progression, and pre-set modules and learning materials.

Connections to ACE: PBL is often built around an adaptable ethos since students are given significant agency in the learning process, which means that the process will in some ways reflect their lived realities. But because PBL is often team-based, we may need to investigate new tools to help us bring together individual students into cohorts that can connect in a sustained way. Doing this while working to ameliorate the different barriers that individual students will face during a time of crisis will mean centering equity in your design process.

PBL Online

If you use PBL in your course, you may want to consider how HyFlex or Modular design can help you group certain kinds of activities that require face-to-face interaction together so that you can run those activities while campus is open. But if the curriculum needs to move fully online, the following resources may help you think about how you can preserve the basic principles of PBL as you transition to an online modality.

  • This webinar by Professors Cathie LeBlanc, Brandon Haas, and Elisabeth Johnston focuses specifically on what faculty should consider when moving a PBL course online.
  • This resource contains tips and projects related to guiding children in any grade through project-based learning—with or without technology.
  • These are the Buck Institute’s Essential Project Design Elements (the “gold standard elements for PBL”).
  • This webinar by PBLWorks focuses on solutions for sticky problems of practice for facilitating PBL online.
  • This is the list of best practices for online PBL created by WPI (one of the more renowned universities doing PBL).

About the Workbook

The Workbook is an online space for you to record your reflections and assignments for the Workshop.

Participants at PSU will be using an Office 365 Word Document (available via the “Files” section of the “General” channel in the ACE Workshop Teams space).

Participants at other institutions should check with their Workshop Facilitator(s) about where to work on their Workbook.

About the Discussion Forum

The Discussion Forum is an online space where all the members of the Workshop can share ideas and reflections and build community

Participants at PSU will be using the ACE Workshop Teams space).

Participants at other institutions should check with their Workshop Facilitator(s) about where to access their Discussion Forum.

About the VidSpace

The VidSpace is an online space for synchronous video meetings among participants (that can also be recorded and shared for asynchronous access).

Participants at PSU will be using Zoom (available via the Zoom tab in the ACE Workshop Teams space).

Participants at other institutions should check with their Workshop Facilitator(s) about where to access their VidSpace. 

About the ACE “Institutional Level”

The ACE Framework is primarily designed for faculty who are readjusting their curriculum during times of regional, national, or global crisis. But in order for the work that faculty do with their assignments and courses to be most effective, it should be aligned with the institutional mission, which should guide policy and structural planning related to curriculum and teaching.

The institutional level of the framework is a reminder to faculty that if their adjustments at the assignment- or course-level are difficult to operationalize successfully, it could be due to larger policies and structures that are mis-aligned with the ACE Framework; advocacy may be warranted to bring the institution into alignment.

The institutional level of the framework is also a call to university policy-making committees, administrators, Boards of Trustees, and legislators that there is much work to be done to prepare university policies and structures to support students and faculty who are learning and teaching through challenging times.