Authentic Learning: Can Technology Enhance the Experience?

Authentic learning provides students with realistic experiences to gain knowledge, collaborate, learn how to ask good questions and show their understanding. Technology is used to help students make meaningful connections to the new knowledge and apply it to real-life situations.

by Roxanne Hibberd

How can teachers create authentic learning experiences using technology?

Step 1 – Pedagogy Before Technology

Technology does not replace good teaching. Teachers design authentic tasks that allow students’ conceptual engagement with the content. Students involved in authentic learning show how they can apply the new knowledge to real-life situations. Technology is a powerful tool that enhances teaching; thus, students have access to tools which help with research, communication, capturing their thoughts, and receiving feedback to deliver their message about real-life issues.

Step 2 – Collaboration

Students engaging in authentic tasks should have opportunities to collaborate with others to solve new problems. Teachers need to know how to design learning spaces that allow for collaboration in a risk-free environment. The use of technology can help create collaborative learning spaces by providing platforms for students to share their ideas and receive feedback. Video conferencing and Google Hangouts are communication platforms for several people to collaborate at the same time. Students can send messages, make video calls, and connect with their peers to discuss issues and complete tasks.

Step 3 – Essential Questions

Authentic tasks begin with an essential question. Students develop questions about real-life experiences that they find puzzling and then work on solving the problem to gain knowledge and understanding. Technology helps students to plan, create and produce products that answer the question. Students can use online journals and blogs to capture reflections of the content learned and the connections made to the real-world.

Step 4 – Feedback and Assessments

During authentic tasks, it is important that students receive immediate feedback. Ongoing communication between the teacher and the student promotes a productive learning environment because concerns are addressed promptly. The teacher shares the formative assessment and discusses the student’s next steps. Technology tools, such as online portfolios, journals, and blogs allow students to present their work in real-time to show their understanding of the new knowledge and how it applies outside of the classroom.

Helpful Resources

Author: Roxanne Hibberd

Roxanne is a principal in YRDSB. She has enjoyed being an educator for the past thirty-five years. Her passion for lifelong learning continues as she is a student in the UOIT MEd program.

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