Objective: Decide how you will create “active, authentic learning environments” in your online courses

Authentic Activities

Learning-by-doing is generally considered the most effective way to learn and students are motivated by solving real-world problems (Lombardi, 2007).  However, for decades authentic learning has been difficult to implement. Now with the affordances and great potential of the Internet we are now able to create authentic tasks that improve learning outcomes.

Significantly, educational researchers are coming to the conclusion that “the value of authentic activity is not constrained to learning in real-life locations and practice, but that the benefits of authentic activity can be realized through careful design of Web-based learning environments,” (Herrington,  Reeves, Oliver, and Woo, 2002). Today’s Web-based learning environments give students access to many of the same resources that professionals use in their research.

NINE ELEMENTS OF AUTHENTIC LEARNING:

Introduction

  1. Authentic context.
    • Provide authentic contexts that reflect the way the knowledge will be used in real life.
  2. Authentic task.
    • Provide authentic tasks and activities.
  3. Expert performance.
    • Provide access to expert performances and the modelling of processes.
  4.  Multiple perspectives.
    • Provide multiple roles and perspectives.
  5. Collaboration.
    • Support collaborative construction of knowledge.
  6.  Reflection
    • Promote reflection to enable abstractions to be formed.
  7.  Articulation
    • Promote articulation to enable tacit knowledge to be made explicit.
  8.  Coaching and scaffolding
    1. Provide coaching and scaffolding by the teacher at critical times.
  9.  Authentic assessment
    • Provide for authentic assessment of learning within the tasks.

Herrington, J., Reeves, T.C & Oliver, R. (2010). A guide to authentic e-learning. London and New York: Routledge

 

Problem-Based Learning

One authentic learning approach is Problem-Based Learning (PBL) which starts with an ill-defined, open-ended problem that challenges students to work in teams to solve real-world, authentic problems. Using the vocabulary of their target profession, students communicate to stakeholders so the “real-world” is brought into the classroom. PBL provides a context for learning the concepts required, and an environment in which students report to a manager and work in a team. Students create “deliverables” that are close or identical to what an employee may be asked to produce in an entry-level job or internship.

Key components in PBL include:

A scenario describing the environment, roles and deliverables. Scenarios are designed with industry input for authenticity.

  • Online resources and links, which provide just-in-time learning for students.
  • Team-based projects, which encourage the development of 21st Century Skills such as collaborating with others, meeting deadlines, solving problems, thinking critically, and communicating both orally and in writing.
  • Reflection questions, allowing students to articulate what they learned throughout the process of working on a deliverable.
  • Team meetings with the “manager”, which replace lectures.
The below video is an Interview with Jane Ostander, leader in the Problem-Based Learning field.

 

Problem-Based Learning (PBL) scenario?

The word “scenario” comes from scripts used in the movie/television industry that contain all the details about the characters, scenes, and the sequence of episodes. Similarly, a PBL scenario is a narrative that describes the problematic situation relevant to the area of study. The scenario should include plausible supporting facts and information relevant to the problem posed in the scenario. A scenario should also provide a verbal picture of the sequence of events, or situation, based on certain assumptions and factors determined by its creator.
Below is a video by Peter Leong who provides a brief orientation of a PBL scenario created for a Educational Technology Research course.


Benefits of Active, Authentic Online Learning Environments

The benefits of using active, authentic learning environments are it: (1) increases student engagement and motivation. It puts the instructor in the role of the facilitator rather than a “sage on the stage” and (2) promotes the development of 21st Century skills such as communication, collaboration, and problem-solving that employers and looking for.

Assessment

Assessment is a very large, complex topic, which is beyond the scope of this week’s content. The key concept when teaching in authentic online learning environments is to create authentic assessments which evaluate students’ work in “real-world” contexts. In other words, students are applying the skills they are learning to real world projects. Authentic assessment does not encourage rote learning and passive test-taking. Instead, it focuses on students’ analytical skills, ability to integrate what they learn, creativity, ability to work collaboratively, and written and oral communication skills. It values the learning process as much as the finished product.

It is also good practice to provide the assessment tool (such as a Rubric) to the student while they are going through the learning so they know what they will be evaluated on.

Resources

Next: Please read and review