Objective: Decide how you will create “active, authentic learning environments” in your online courses
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:
- Authentic context.
- Provide authentic contexts that reflect the way the knowledge will be used in real life.
- Authentic task.
- Provide authentic tasks and activities.
- Expert performance.
- Provide access to expert performances and the modelling of processes.
- Multiple perspectives.
- Provide multiple roles and perspectives.
- Support collaborative construction of knowledge.
- Promote reflection to enable abstractions to be formed.
- Promote articulation to enable tacit knowledge to be made explicit.
- Coaching and scaffolding
- Provide coaching and scaffolding by the teacher at critical times.
- 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
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.
Problem-Based Learning (PBL) scenario?
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 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.
- Authentic Learning Resources
- Ideas for Active Online Learning
- Overview of Authentic Learning
How Authentic Learning Is Transforming Higher Ed
- Authentic Online Learning Resource Links
- What is Problem-Based Learning? (video)
- “What is Problem-Based Learning?”. University of California, Irvine
- Problem-Based Learning Standards 2013 Edition
- Problem-Based Learning Teaching Resources
- Experiential Learning Center: Destination PBL
- Authentic Assessment slideshow and Best Practices
- Criteria and Rubrics