This week, our professor posed a question to us that I had been worrying about in prior weeks: is it still PBL without an active audience. According to the Buck Institute, having an active audience to view student project outcomes is a crucial component of the PBL process. While I understand that an active audience is part of establishing authenticity, it can pose challenges to teachers or schools who are not in a position to open their doors to the community for a variety of reasons (location, time, resources, etc.) At the same time, I think the meaning of active audience can be stretched to mean many different things in our current age of technology and interconnectedness.
In short, I do believe a unit can still be considered PBL without an active audience because it is not the audience that makes the unit project based. That being said, each PBL unit must have some element of relevance or authenticity to anchor the learning. Otherwise, the work students do loses some of its purposefulness. In lieu of a public presentation, the teacher could have students post their work online for others online to view. For a high school class, creating products intended to teacher younger students might be a motivating outcome. Alternatively, creating an online reference for users who need information could also be a useful outcome. I also think it could be really fun for two classes in two different places (i.e. different cities, states, or even countries) to study the same PBL unit and share their outcomes.