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

Snagit – Superb Screen Capture and Recording Tool

Quick and easy-to-use tool to capture pictures and create videos. Very useful inside and outside the classroom.

by Robin Kay

Overview

Snagit allows you to quickly capture and store snapshots and videos of your computer screen.  Create high-quality pictures and videos for teaching guides, blogs, social media posts, and, of course, instruction, especially in blended, online, and flipped learning environments.  If you are familiar with basic video controls (e.g., record, pauses, stop), you can easily crop and snap a picture in seconds or record a screencast in minutes.  Snagit provides you with an instant link to your video or you can upload it to YouTube with a simple click of an icon.

Getting Started

I have read this kind of review before.  Easy to use?  Sure if you have been using the tool for years!  I have been using Snagit for years, but lucky for you, they provide a pretty sweet set of short videos to help even the newest of users.  Try this one on recording a video first.  In three and half minutes, you will be ready to go.

Teaching Ideas

These reviews are for educators.  A tool can be easy to use and produce slick graphics and videos, but so what?  How do you use Snagit to improve learning?

Idea 1 – Digital Lesson

Obviously, you can create instructional videos, but a better idea is to wrap them in a digital lesson using BlendSpace, TedEd, or Versal.  Add questions and activities that will direct students toward your intended learning goals.

Idea 2 – Assignment Instructions

This is a simple idea.  Record a video clearly explaining an assignment.  No more last-minute back-and-forth emails about “what are we supposed to do?”. And the “you didn’t say that” excuse is gone because you did – in the video!

Idea 3 – Video Feedback

This might sound time-consuming and a bit crazy, but for certain assignments, video feedback works really well, particularly for blended and online learning. It’s personal, detailed and doesn’t take that much more time than typing digital comments.

Helpful Resources

Cost and Alternatives

You can download and try Snagit for 15 days, then purchase the educational version for a one-time fee (no yearly subscription) of $29.95 (US).  The regular version costs $49.95.

If that is too expensive for you, try Jing.  It’s free, made by the same company (TechSmith©), but only allows you to create 5-minute videos (which may not be a bad thing given the attention span of many students) and it is harder to upload to YouTube.  Still, free is free.

I have also used Screen-Cast-Omatic, which is also free, allows for up to 15-minute videos (who would watch that) and quick upload to YouTube.  However, the company watermark appears on your video.

10 Steps Toward Digital Citizenship

Being a good digital citizen is harder than you think.

by Robin Kay

Digital citizenship is a little tricky than you might link.  It might even feel like common sense.  But there is a lot more to being a digital citizen than a regular citizen.  Here are 10 steps that will be helpful to guide you or your students.

Step 1 – Everything is Available to Everyone Online

Understand that everything you put online is accessible to anyone.

Step 2 – Write as if You Speaking Face-to-Face

Writing can distance you from a person. You might write things that you would never say to someone face-to-face.  That can get you in trouble.

Step 3 – Watch Your Digital Foot Print