How do these courses work? Is there a teacher?

The courses are designed to be flexible for use in different learning environments. For learners in formal learning settings (such as public and private schools), class subscriptions are available in which educators can moderate and facilitate a course for all of their students. Subscribing educators will be provided with an instructor portal where they can review submitted assignments, see course progression for each of their learners, and review essays and assessments.

Individual and homeschool learners work independently through the courses. The independent courses are unmoderated and asynchronous, meaning that while there is no educator supervising the learner’s progress, the lessons can be completed at the learner’s preferred pace.

All learners are able to share their progress and projects with each other through the Caboodle! Instagram page.

How are these courses different from other online courses?

Unlike course providers such as Khan Academy, our focus is not on information or content delivery, but on the creative process and learning to learn. These courses are designed for learners to build upon their existing understanding of content in a meaningful and unique way. Instead of focusing on the facts and details often covered in online courses, we have developed an open-ended framework to scaffold an inquiry process enabling students to bring their own interests and passions into their learning artifacts. So, instead of reading about topics, they explore and add to the collective body of knowledge on topics in an original and real-world way.

What will the learner’s experience be like?

The primary goal of the Big IDEAS courses is to have the learner engage in experiences away from the computer/devices. The course is written directly for the student and explains how they can effectively engage with their communities and in creative activities away from the screen. On Caboodle!, you’ll see fewer “recall” quizzes and more opportunities to analyze data, generate ideas, and engage in authentic learning experiences.

Each course provides opportunities for learners to either work independently or, preferably, collaborate with others in their class using their existing preferred collaboration tools such as Google Docs and Zoom. This will enable the learners to continue valuable collaborative learning experiences even when social distancing.

Which instructional approaches and methods are used, and are they evidence-based?

The Big IDEAS courses scaffold a design thinking process while also incorporating elements of community-based learning, project-based learning, cross-curricular instruction, and epistemic agency. Each of these approaches are evidence-based, and you can learn more about how they are used in Big IDEAS here.

What subject areas do the Big IDEAS courses cover?

The courses are truly cross-curricular in nature. We started by focusing on middle school science standards to develop the themes: FEED (food and agriculture), POWER (energy and power), RIDE (motion and transportation), HEAL (health and wellness), and PROTECT (the environment and Earth’s processes). We then ensured that the project incorporated plenty of Common Core English/Language Arts standards and provided opportunity for delving deep into social issues. Being that these courses are studen-driven, they can incorporate any content area that piques the learner’s curiosity.

What is the cost for each course?

It is very important to us to make these courses accessible to everyone. We have designated at least one month-long course as free in each metropolitan area to ensure that all students have access to meaningful and engaging learning opportunities during the COVID-19 crisis. The rest of our courses are available at a low subscription cost (both monthly and annual subscriptions are available). Each subscription includes access to all of our Big IDEAS catalog.

Lastly, to ensure access for all, we are providing a monthly “pay as you wish” month-long subscription available through the fall of 2020.

See all subscription options here.