Registration for the 2018PBL International Conference and the Pre-Conference Workshops is open. Please scroll down for a more detailed description of the pre-conference workshops.

Refund Policy:
Cancel by December 20th: 80% refund of registration fees paid
Cancel by January 15th: 50% refund of registration fees paid
Cancel after January 15th: No refund.

Pre-Conference Workshops

All the workshops will be in English.

Meaningful Making: A Hands-on Introduction to FabLearn Labs and Makerspaces

Partner Institution: FabLearn and the Transformative Learning Technologies Lab (TLTL) at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education.

Location: Stanford University Campus

Time: Friday, February 16, 2018 | 09:00 – 14:00

Target Audience: Teachers and educational leaders who strive to integrate the principles of constructionism and maker education into formal and informal learning spaces.

Minimum/Maximum Number of Participants: 15/15

Facilitator: Dr. Paulo Blikstein, Director Transformative Learning Technologies Lab

Included: Refreshments/Coffee; Tour of the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, known as the Stanford


This workshop offers participants an introduction to FabLearn, an educational makerspace lab, a research collaborative, a global network, and a vision of learning for the 21st century.

The workshop includes hands-on activities that allow participants to experience and reflect on how modern technology allows schools, libraries, community organizations, and other learning spaces to offer experiences to learners that are both intellectually rich and expressive.

Participants will also have the opportunity to tour the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, also known as the Stanford, a place and a community where people use design to develop their own creative potential.

About FabLearn and the Transformative Learning Technologies Lab (TLTL):

FabLearn is a global network that disseminates ideas, best practices and resources to support an international community of educators, researchers and policy makers committed to integrating the principles of educational makerspaces and constructionist learning into formal and informal K-12 education.

FabLearn is based on the work of Stanford University Assistant Professor Paulo Blikstein and the Transformative Learning Technologies Lab (TLTL), an academic research group within Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education.

The intellectual roots of FabLearn extend back to the work of Seymour Papert and his collaborators at the MIT Media Lab. The original FabLab was conceived in the Media Lab at MIT by Neil Gershenfeld (with collaboration of Bakhtiar Mitkak) as a creative space for university students and was transplanted successfully to community centers and entrepreneurial hothouses around the globe. Similarly, FabLearn supports spaces called FabLearn Labs that serve pre-college youth world-wide.

Paulo Blikstein

Paulo Blikstein is an assistant professor at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education where he directs the Transformative Learning Technologies Lab and the global FabLearn Program.

Blikstein’s research focuses on how new technologies can deeply transform the learning of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. He creates and researches cutting-edge educational technologies, such as computer modeling, robotics, digital fabrication, and rapid prototyping, creating hands-on learning environments in which children learn STEM disciplines by building sophisticated projects and devices. He also focuses on the application of data-mining and machine learning for the assessment of hands-on, project-based learning. Blikstein was a pioneer in bringing the maker movement to schools, and started the first educational program around digital fabrication in schools, FabLearn Labs (formerly FabLab@School). His group has built advanced digital fabrication labs and has conducted research in middle and high-schools in the US, Russia, Mexico, Spain, Australia, Finland, Brazil, Denmark, and Thailand.

Paulo is also the Founder and Principal Investigator of the Lemann Center for Brazilian Education at Stanford, a 10-year initiative to transform public education in Brazil. A recipient of the National Science Foundation Early Career Award, and the AERA Jan Hawkins Early Career award, he holds a PhD. from Northwestern University and an MSc. from the MIT Media Lab.

A PBL Project Slice - An Immersive PBL Experience for K-12 Professionals

Partner Institution: The Buck Institute of Education (BIE)

Location: Santa Clara University Campus

Time: Friday, February 16, 2018 | 09:00 – 17:00 *Full day workshop

Target Audience: K-12 Professionals

Minimum/Maximum Number of Participants: 30/20

Facilitator: James Fester

Included: Refreshments/Coffee; Guided Tour of SCU Campus


A Project Slice demonstrates what it’s like to be a learner in Project Based Learning, by engaging participants in an immersive PBL experience—a “slice” of a project. Schools and districts can use a Project Slice to build understanding of PBL in a staff or school community.

Project Slice participants engage as learners in a transformative one-day project that models the key features of the PBL process. The day mirrors the flow of a larger project, beginning with an engaging launch/entry event and authentic driving question. Teams work together to build knowledge, understanding and success skills, and develop and critique products and answers to the driving question. The day culminates with team presentations of their products, followed by structured reflection on what they have learned about PBL. At key moments throughout the day, participants are encouraged to “put on their teacher hats” and reflect on the pedagogical moves they are experiencing as PBL learners, as well as implications for their own contexts.

Making Space for Change: Participants in this Project Slice explore the driving question, “How can we redesign a public space to promote a social benefit?” Each team focuses on creating a plan for a public space (park, library, etc.) that facilitates a different goal, such as increasing opportunities for civil and democratic discourse, or enhancing public health and physical fitness.

About the Buck Institute of Education (BIE):

The Buck Institute of Education is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving 21st Century teaching and learning by creating and disseminating products, practices and knowledge for effective Project Based Learning. BIE, headquartered in Novato, California, is recognized as a national leader in PBL and Active Learning Methodologies.

James Fester

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, James brings over a decade of experience as a secondary classroom teacher and a PBL and technology coach in both private and public schools. James is passionate about supporting teachers of all experience and comfort levels by sharing experience from his own practice and helping teachers design projects that engage their students. In addition to being a member of the Buck Institute’s National Faculty, he is also a Google Certified Innovator, Educator and Trainer, a Common Sense Media Digital Ambassador, and a presenter at educational technology conferences across the U.S. James is a tireless advocate for experiential and place-based learning, and serves as a volunteer interpreter and guide for the U.S. National Park Service. James currently works and lives in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area as a technology integration trainer and coach at Hill-Murray School.

A Deep Dive into PBL at Stanford University: Inspiration, Principles and Ideas for PBL at Your Campus

Partner Institution: PBL Lab in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, California.

Location: Stanford University Campus

Time: Friday, February 16, 2018 | 13:00 – 17:30

Target Audience: Instructors, researchers, and administrators interested in how PBL principles are carried out in multiple settings

Minimum/Maximum Number of Participants: 20/30

Facilitator: Dr. Renate Fruchter, Director PBL Lab, Stanford Center for Integrated Facility Engineering; and Dan Gilbert, Founder, Gilbert + Chittenden

Included: Refreshments/Coffee

Requirements: Open mind and willingness to meet new people


PBL courses have grown consistently over 20+ years at Stanford University and are now a significant component in multiple academic programs across schools. This workshop aims to expose and inspire participants by diverse PBL examples from the Stanford Graduate School of Education, the Stanford School of Engineering, and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (known as the Stanford We will discuss key principles of PBL formalized and implemented in the different programs and invite participants to develop ideas that connect those principles with specific needs and goals for courses and students at participant’s home institutions. Finally, participants will have hands-on experiences with some of the latest collaboration technologies and learning spaces that are being used to support innovative approaches to PBL.

Launching the 25th generation of a cutting-edge global teamwork class at Stanford:

Participants will:

– Hear stories of PBL in action from a variety of disciplines at Stanford

– Make connections between key PBL principles and specific examples of activities in different courses

– Generate ideas towards implementing PBL principles at their institutions and/or courses and receive valuable feedback from a community of like-minded leaders

– Build relationships with PBL visionaries from other institutions

Dan Gilbert - Founder, Gilbert + Chittenden, Senior Associate, IntoActions

Over his 20-year career, Dan has worked with leaders and learners of all ages around the world to strengthen their innovation and design skills. While he has a particular passion for higher education, he has applied this approach to global companies, non-profit organizations as well as civic institutions.

Building upon his graduate work in Learning, Design and Technology from Stanford University, Dan has taught design courses at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education. He also coached faculty, staff and students on using innovative pedagogies as Academic Technology Specialist at the Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning (SCIL) as well as Special Assistant to the Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Most recently, Dan has served as the Chief Operating Officer of the Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance, a children’s environmental health organization that promotes green, safe and healthy housing for children and families in Omaha, Nebraska.

Prior to his graduate studies and work at Stanford University, Dan worked with schools, museums, high-tech startups in Silicon Valley and also taught ESL in the United States and Japan. Beyond work, Dan enjoys spending time with his family, running marathons and coaching his local elementary school chess team.

Dr. Renate Fruchter

Dr. Renate Fruchter is the founding director of the Project Based Learning Laboratory (PBL Lab), lecturer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Senior Research Engineer thrust leader of “Collaboration Technologies” at the Center for Integrated Facilities Engineering (CIFE), at Stanford. She leads a research effort to develop collaboration technologies for multidisciplinary, geographically distributed teamwork, and e-Learning. Her interests focus on R&D and larger scale deployment of collaboration technologies that include Web-based team building, synchronous and asynchronous knowledge capture, sharing and re-use, project memory, corporate memory, and mobile solutions for global teamwork and e-Learning. In addition, she has established in 1998 a strong research effort focusing on the impact of technology on learning, team interaction, and assessment. She is the leader and developer of the innovative “Computer Integrated Architecture/Engineering/Construction Global Teamwork” course launched in 1993, at Stanford, that engages universities from US, Japan, and Europe.

Dr. Renate Fruchter has received her Engineering Diploma from the Institute for Civil Engineering in Bucharest, Romania (1981), her MSc. (1986) and Ph.D. (1990) from Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. She has joined Stanford University in 1990.

360 Filmmaker Workshop: Using 360° Virtual Reality Technology in Support of Active Learning and Immersive Storytelling

Partner Institution: Digital Promise

Location: Santa Clara University Campus

Time: Friday, February 16, 2018 | 09:00 – 13:00

Target Audience: K-16 teachers and anyone interested in using 360° Virtual Reality Technology in Support of Active Learning and Immersive Storytelling

Minimum/Maximum Number of Participants: 20/25

Facilitator: Dimitri Moore, Video Producer and Digital Storytelling Coach

Included: Refreshments/Coffee; Guided Tour of SCU Campus

Technology Requirements: Digital Promise will provide the teams with Oculus VR headsets and Android phones. Participants will need to bring laptops and earphones.


Virtual reality is transforming fields from medicine to journalism — and education, too. Through simulations and virtual field trips, virtual reality lets learners step into the shoes of a young girl in a refugee camp, investigate ocean acidification, witness the wonder of the Great Barrier Reef, and more.

Yet learners can do more than consume content with these new technologies: they can also be creators. In the 360 Filmmaker Workshop, participants will be introduced to 360 Film and Immersive Storytelling in support of active learning.

Throughout the workshops, participants will work in teams to:

– Develop an Immersive Story Concept.

– Pitch story concepts and make a production plan.

– Learn about the use of the 360 VR Camera.

– Create a 360 Film in one shot in the surrounding area.

– Review footage workflow and transfer footage from camera to computer.

– Export one-shot film & save videos to each phone.

– Watch all films and provide peer feedback.

About Digital Promise

Digital Promise is an independent, bipartisan nonprofit, authorized by Congress in 2008 as the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies through Section 802 of the Higher Education Opportunity Act, signed into law by President George W. Bush.

With an initial Board of Directors recommended by Members of Congress and appointed by then U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, President Barack Obama formally launched Digital Promise in September 2011. Startup support came from the U.S. Department of Education, Carnegie Corporation of New York, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Since then, Digital Promise has grown rapidly with additional funding from both original and new funders. Digital Promise works at the intersection of education leaders, researchers, and entrepreneurs and developers to improve learning with the power of technology.Digital Promise remains passionately committed spurring innovation in education to improve opportunities to learn.

Dimitri Moore, Video Producer and Digital Storytelling Coach

Since 2001, Dimitri has worked at Columbia College Chicago, Youth Speaks, Bay Area Video Coalition, Mill Valley Film Festival, SF Sketchfest, Illinois Leadership Seminars and Free Spirit Media, where he learned how to breakdown, organize and produce projects of all types. He graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in Film and Video Producing.

Dimitri has trained youth in media production, leadership development and workshopped adults in discovering their preferred work culture. He has produced music videos for Bay Area artists, short narrative films, promo videos for small businesses, training videos for Facebook and Yahoo, and documentaries. He is currently the creator of a web series that focuses on The Ignition Point of addiction and passion and a resident at San Francisco Film Society’s FilmHouse Residency Program. Dimitri can be reached at [email protected].

Team-Based Learning: Taking PBL to the Next Level

Location: Santa Clara University Campus

Time: Friday, February 16, 2018 | 09:00 – 13:00

Target Audience:

Minimum/Maximum Number of Participants: 20/40

Facilitator: Mark A. Serva, Associate Professor of MIS & MIS Advisor, University of Delaware

Included: Refreshments/Coffee; Guided Tour of SCU Campus


Team-based learning is an inquiry-based pedagogy that has many similarities to PBL. Knowledge of TBL, however, can actually enhance PBL. TBL provides guidance on class structure, encouraging students to come to class prepared, and an alternative to problem design.  

This workshop will be very practical and very hands-on: attendees will learn how to structure a class, ensure their students are prepared for class, and design a TBL application exercise.

Mark A. Serva

Mark A. Serva is an associate professor of management information systems at The University of Delaware.  He has published numerous articles in the areas of e-commerce trust, latent growth modeling, and the improvement of student learning.  He is also the recipient of many teaching awards, including the Lerner College’s Outstanding Teacher.  

Dr. Serva is the former director for UD’s Institute for Transforming Undergraduate Education, a leading advocate for the integration of student-centered pedagogies into higher education.  He is currently serving as the secretary on the PAN-PBL Executive Board.  He is a well-traveled educational consultant, having conducted PBL workshops on five continents.