Hybrid, online, home school and seat-based learning options available.

Lessons for PBL Educators from the Food Truck Phenomenon

iLEAD Schools

Before the pandemic, food trucks were all the rage. Now, with restricted indoor dining options, food trucks are gaining even more popularity. Just as food trucks are revolutionizing the dining experience, project-based learning (PBL) is revolutionizing the learning experience.

So what do food trucks and PBL have in common? Here are five similarities:

1. Authenticity

Food trucks are often owned by local food aficionados who live and work in the same community. Customers see food trucks as authentic because they appear to be owned, operated and created by hardworking people. These folks are real food entrepreneurs who have a passion and connection to their food and their customers. PBL is authentic in a very similar way, and that’s why students often respond differently to project-based experiences than they might to a textbook. PBL is aimed at real-world issues in real communities. Learners see that their work is valuable and will be seen and experienced by real people in their school and community. Some excellent PBL is being facilitated by schools of choice, such as charter schools.

2. Differentiation / Specialization

No two food trucks are alike; each is naturally unique. Each has a unique name, menu offerings and recipes. PBL also offers differentiated, specialized experiences for learners. Through learner voice and choice, learners can focus on various aspects of a particular question or problem, choose a product that will demonstrate and articulate their learning, assume various project management roles and focus on different skills that need to be improved.

3. Mobility / Flexibility

The big advantage food trucks have over brick-and-mortar restaurants is their mobility. They can move to the customers. This allows the customer to enjoy dining in many different and unique environments. Similarly, high-quality project-based Learning allows learning to take place in a variety of places and with many types of teams, resources and partners. Facilitators can create flexible and individual environments, assessments and projects. Project-based learning is real-world work that is continually adapting and being personalized. Whether it’s connecting to the community, partnering with an industry or nonprofit organization, or getting involved in work-based or service learning, there is always room for flexibility. And with technology, learners can access and engage at home at different times and in many ways.

4. Specialization: Building a Brand

Since food trucks are not large, they tend to specialize their menus. They can’t prepare, sell and offer an unending list of seemingly unrelated foods. They have a handful of menu items, and people flock to them for those. Their simple, focused menus lead to quality brand recognition. Schools, as well as educators, have often suffered from trying to offer too many things, trying to address hundreds of standards, needs and goals. If schools could focus on a universal but very personal and customizable pedagogy, such as PBL, then they might find their schools more appealing and successful. Neither food vendors nor schools can be good at everything. Our best work happens when we find what we do best and then learn to optimize that. PBL allows learners to take advantage of their strengths and interest areas.

5. Make It An Experience (Social & Fun)

Patrons who visit food trucks have other dining options. However, many opt for the food truck experience not just for convenience but for an opportunity to socialize and have fun. Similarly, PBL is naturally collaborative (learner-to-learner, learner-to-facilitator/coach, learner-to-community-partner/expert). And collaboration is both more engaging and one of the most important 21st-century employability skills. Food trucks engage the consumer. Education can do the same through PBL. Food tastes better when we’re having fun. We also learn at higher levels when we’re having fun. All of us, and especially learners, are looking for meaningful and relevant experiences. Almost everything we enjoy is about place, people and a unique moment. Because food trucks tend to be simple, specialized, social, fun, flexible and mobile, they create a unique experience each time. Learning should do just that, too. 

Note: This post by Michael Niehoff was previously published and has been updated and revised.

Posted on October 1, 2020 in iLEAD Digest

Share the Story

About the Author

Back to Top

Effective date: August 29, 2019

iLEAD California (“us”, “we”, or “our”) operates the https://ileadschools.org/ website (the “Service”).

This page informs you of our policies regarding the collection, use and disclosure of personal data when you use our Service and the choices you have associated with that data.

We use your data to provide and improve the Service. By using the Service, you agree to the collection and use of information in accordance with this policy. Unless otherwise defined in this Privacy Policy, the terms used in this Privacy Policy have the same meanings as in our Terms and Conditions, accessible from the Service.

Information Collection and Use

We collect several different types of information for various purposes to provide and improve our Service to you.

Types of Data Collected

Personal Data

While using our Service, we may ask you to provide us with certain personally identifiable information that can be used to contact or identify you (“Personal Data”). Personally identifiable information may include, but is not limited to:

We may use your Personal Data to contact you with newsletters, marketing or promotional materials and other information that may be of interest to you. You may opt out of receiving any, or all, of these communications from us by following the unsubscribe link or the instructions provided in any email we send.

Usage Data

We may also collect information on how the Service is accessed and used (“Usage Data”). This Usage Data may include information such as your computer’s Internet Protocol address (e.g. IP address), browser type, browser version, the pages of our Service that you visit, the time and date of your visit, the time spent on those pages, unique device identifiers and other diagnostic data.

Tracking & Cookies Data

We use cookies and similar tracking technologies to track the activity on our Service and we hold certain information.

Cookies are files with a small amount of data which may include an anonymous unique identifier. Cookies are sent to your browser from a website and stored on your device. Other tracking technologies are also used such as beacons, tags and scripts to collect and track information and to improve and analyse our Service.

You can instruct your browser to refuse all cookies or to indicate when a cookie is being sent. However, if you do not accept cookies, you may not be able to use some portions of our Service.

Examples of Cookies we use:

Use of Data

iLEAD California uses the collected data for various purposes:

Legal Basis for Processing Personal Data under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

If you are from the European Economic Area (EEA), iLEAD California legal basis for collecting and using the personal information described in this Privacy Policy depends on the Personal Data we collect and the specific context in which we collect it.

iLEAD California may process your Personal Data because:

Retention of Data

iLEAD California will retain your Personal Data only for as long as is necessary for the purposes set out in this Privacy Policy. We will retain and use your Personal Data to the extent necessary to comply with our legal obligations (for example, if we are required to retain your data to comply with applicable laws), resolve disputes and enforce our legal agreements and policies.

iLEAD California will also retain Usage Data for internal analysis purposes. Usage Data is generally retained for a shorter period of time, except when this data is used to strengthen the security or to improve the functionality of our Service, or we are legally obligated to retain this data for longer periods.

Transfer of Data

Your information, including Personal Data, may be transferred to – and maintained on – computers located outside of your state, province, country or other governmental jurisdiction where the data protection laws may differ from those of your jurisdiction.

If you are located outside United States and choose to provide information to us, please note that we transfer the data, including Personal Data, to United States and process it there.

Your consent to this Privacy Policy followed by your submission of such information represents your agreement to that transfer.

iLEAD California will take all the steps reasonably necessary to ensure that your data is treated securely and in accordance with this Privacy Policy and no transfer of your Personal Data will take place to an organisation or a country unless there are adequate controls in place including the security of your data and other personal information.

Disclosure of Data

Business Transaction

If iLEAD California is involved in a merger, acquisition or asset sale, your Personal Data may be transferred. We will provide notice before your Personal Data is transferred and becomes subject to a different Privacy Policy.

Disclosure for Law Enforcement

Under certain circumstances, iLEAD California may be required to disclose your Personal Data if required to do so by law or in response to valid requests by public authorities (e.g. a court or a government agency).

Legal Requirements

iLEAD California may disclose your Personal Data in the good faith belief that such action is necessary to:

Security of Data

The security of your data is important to us but remember that no method of transmission over the Internet or method of electronic storage is 100% secure. While we strive to use commercially acceptable means to protect your Personal Data, we cannot guarantee its absolute security.

Our Policy on “Do Not Track” Signals under the California Online Protection Act (CalOPPA)

We do not support Do Not Track (“DNT”). Do Not Track is a preference you can set in your web browser to inform websites that you do not want to be tracked.

You can enable or disable Do Not Track by visiting the Preferences or Settings page of your web browser.

Your Data Protection Rights under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

If you are a resident of the European Economic Area (EEA), you have certain data protection rights. iLEAD California aims to take reasonable steps to allow you to correct, amend, delete or limit the use of your Personal Data.

If you wish to be informed about what Personal Data we hold about you and if you want it to be removed from our systems, please contact us.

In certain circumstances, you have the following data protection rights:

Please note that we may ask you to verify your identity before responding to such requests.

You have the right to complain to a Data Protection Authority about our collection and use of your Personal Data. For more information, please contact your local data protection authority in the European Economic Area (EEA).

Service Providers

We may employ third party companies and individuals to facilitate our Service (“Service Providers”), provide the Service on our behalf, perform Service-related services or assist us in analysing how our Service is used.

These third parties have access to your Personal Data only to perform these tasks on our behalf and are obligated not to disclose or use it for any other purpose.


We may use third-party Service Providers to monitor and analyse the use of our Service.

Behavioral Remarketing

iLEAD California uses remarketing services to advertise on third party websites to you after you visited our Service. We and our third-party vendors use cookies to inform, optimise and serve ads based on your past visits to our Service.

Links to Other Sites

Our Service may contain links to other sites that are not operated by us. If you click a third party link, you will be directed to that third party’s site. We strongly advise you to review the Privacy Policy of every site you visit.

We have no control over and assume no responsibility for the content, privacy policies or practices of any third party sites or services.

Children’s Privacy

Our Service does not address anyone under the age of 18 (“Children”).

We do not knowingly collect personally identifiable information from anyone under the age of 18. If you are a parent or guardian and you are aware that your Child has provided us with Personal Data, please contact us. If we become aware that we have collected Personal Data from children without verification of parental consent, we take steps to remove that information from our servers.

Changes to This Privacy Policy

We may update our Privacy Policy from time to time. We will notify you of any changes by posting the new Privacy Policy on this page.

We will let you know via email and/or a prominent notice on our Service, prior to the change becoming effective and update the “effective date” at the top of this Privacy Policy.

You are advised to review this Privacy Policy periodically for any changes. Changes to this Privacy Policy are effective when they are posted on this page.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, please contact us:

Important information regarding confidential student data

There is ongoing litigation between the California Department of Education and the Concerned Parent Association. A notice issued by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson states, “The lawsuit accuses CDE of widespread, systemic non-compliance by local educational agencies with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504. The CDE denies these allegations and is actively defending the litigation.”

The court has ordered CDE to release student and parent information to provide personally identifiable information (PII) – an act that can only be taken as an exception to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). As a result, we are providing notice of the court order and directions to anyone wishing to object.

Please be advised that CDE will notify parents or students of whom are required to disclose information and those individuals may object directly to the court regarding this disclosure using the PDF link below:


| Press
Translate »