Challenge Based Learning - Mini Challenge

Educator engages in a Mini Challenge that provides participants with an increased level of choice and responsibility to solve authentic Challenges while increasing engagement, ownership, and personalization of learning.
Made by Digital Promise - Challenge Based Learning

About this Micro-credential

Key Method

The educator plans and participates in a Mini Challenge that widens the boundaries from the Nano Challenge and provides participants with an increased level of choice and responsibility. The Learners start with a Big Idea and work through the Challenge Based Learning Framework to increase the research depth and reach of their Solutions.

Method Components

Challenge Based Learning

Challenge Based Learning (CBL) provides an efficient and effective framework for learning while solving authentic Challenges. The framework is collaborative and hands-on, asking all participants (students, teachers, families, and community members) to identify Big Ideas, ask good questions, discover and solve Challenges, gain in-depth subject area knowledge, develop 21st-century skills, and share their ideas.

Mini Challenges

The longer duration of a Mini Challenge (2–4 weeks) allows for more in-depth research and reach of Solutions. Taking a “show me what you can do” perspective, Mini Challenges are good for intense learning experiences that stretch the Learners and can be used to prepare Learners for Macro Challenges.

CBL Framework

The CBL Framework is divided into three interconnected phases: Engage, Investigate, and Act. Each phase includes activities that prepare the Learners to move on to the next stage. The Nano Challenge follows this general framework but shortens and simplifies the process.

  • Phase 1: Engage

    Through a process of Essential Questioning, the Learners move from an abstract Big Idea to a concrete and actionable Challenge.

  1. Big Ideas are broad concepts that are explored in multiple ways and are relevant to both the Learners and the larger community (e.g., health).
  2. Essential Questioning allows the Learners to contextualize and personalize the Big Idea. The end product is a single Essential Question that is relevant to the individual or group (e.g., What do I need to do to be healthy?).
  3. Challenges turn the Essential Questions into a call to action by charging participants to learn about the subject and develop a Solution. Challenges are immediate and actionable.
  • Phase 2: Investigate

    All Learners plan and participate in a learning journey that builds the foundation for Solutions and addresses curriculum requirements and personal interests.

  1. Guiding Questions create a pathway to the knowledge and skills the Learners will need to develop a Solution to the Challenge. The process of categorizing and prioritizing the questions creates an organized learning experience. Guiding Questions will continue to emerge throughout the experience.
  2. Guiding Activities and Resources are used to answer the Guiding Questions developed by the Learners. These activities and resources include any and all methods and tools available to the Learners.
  3. Analysis of the lessons learned through the Guiding Activities provides a foundation for the eventual identification of Solutions.
  • Phase 3: Act

    Evidence-based Solutions are developed, implemented with an authentic audience, and then evaluated based on their results.

  1. Solution concepts emerge from the findings made during the investigation phase. Using the design cycle, the Learners will prototype, test, and refine the Solution concepts.
  2. Implementation of the Solution takes place within a real setting with an authentic audience. The age of the Learners and the amount of time and resources available will guide the depth and breadth of the implementation.
  3. Evaluation provides the opportunity to assess the effectiveness of the Solution, make adjustments, and deepen subject area knowledge.

Document, Reflect, and Share

Throughout the Challenge, Learners document their experience using audio, video, images, and photography. The ongoing collection of content provides the resources for reflection, informative assessment, and documentation of the learning process.

There are two pathways toward earning this micro-credential:

  1. Personally working through a Mini Challenge, starting with a Big Idea that you are passionate about and documenting the experience.
  2. Creating a Mini Challenge with your students focused on a Big Idea that aligns with your curriculum scope and sequence. This can be a whole class experience, or you can divide the students into groups to develop more personalized challenges.

It is highly recommended that you use the CBL tracking matrix and/or canvas available at

Research & Resources

Supporting Research


Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

This section lists the items you must submit to earn this micro-credential and the criteria by which they will be evaluated. To earn this micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Parts 1 and 3, and a “Yes” for each component of Part 2.

Part 1. Overview Questions

(200-word limit for each response)

  • Activity Description: What activities did you, your peers, or your students participate in to become proficient in Challenge Based Learning? Please describe the learning activities and strategies you used.
  • Activity Evaluation: How will you demonstrate increased proficiency and knowledge of CBL activities, and what evidence will you present?

Part 2. Work Examples/Artifacts

Submit two personal, peer, or student examples that demonstrate an understanding of each phase of CBL. These can be submitted using the CBL matrix or canvas and can contain links to exemplar presentations, diagrams, or videos. The experience will be evaluated using the following rubric.

Part 3. Educator Reflection

Provide a reflection on what you, your peers, or students learned, using the following questions as a guide (200-word limit):

  • What was the impact of the Mini Challenge experience on understanding the CBL framework?
  • How did you modify or change the framework to meet the specific needs of your situation?
  • How will you use the framework in the future to address challenges?
  • How can you integrate CBL into your personal life and work?

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


Download to access the requirements and scoring guide for this micro-credential.
How to prepare for and earn this micro-credential - in a downloadable PDF document

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