‘A’ is for Authentic Learning – the A to Z of Learning Ls

I had the privilege of being a quest speaker in tonight’s TeachMeet on PLANE.  The topic for tonight was the A to Z of Learning Ls and I spoke specifically about PBL but when I think about the A to Z of learning I am so excited to put a learning focus to each of these letters and I thought it very appropriate to start with A of course 🙂  ‘A’ being for Authentic learning for me.

An Educause article by Lombardi (2007) defines authentic learning as:

Authentic learning typically focuses on real-world, complex problems and their solutions, using role-playing exercises, problem-based activities, case studies, and participation in virtual communities of practice. The learning environments are inherently multidisciplinary. environment is similar to some ‘real world’ application or discipline: managing a city, building a house, flying an airplane, setting a budget, solving a crime, for example.”

This to me is where is should start and the bottom line of any learning experience… the relevance of it to real life experiences. Authentic learning can even simulate the real-world experiences that students might face in a few years time.  I love the idea of role-plays or giving students real responsibility for something like a project that culminates in a product that is showcased to the wider school community or even provides a service to the community.  I have heard of some fantastic learning experiences that have seen students provide a cafe for staff, learning real-world skills in waiting on tables and serving customers for example.

[youtube http://youtu.be/2HyFVEpZyEY]

What I love straight away from the video is seeing the ownership that students get to take and the responsibility they can feel when the project is their’s!  It relates very much to what PBL is all about but as I said already, authentic learning should be all-encompassing too.  The teacher is also pointing out in the video, the sense of inquiry into their own learning that students are getting and building during these experiences as well… how great is we can get younger students developing their inquiring minds that early.  What the video goes on to outline is PBL.  The phases are great steps in the project as well.  A side note relating this video, but a funny one, is that I was listening to some songs by one of my favourite bands today called Doctor Worm so cracked up laughing when the video started with a worm song 🙂

This Authentic Learning blog has a fantastic list of nine elements that come from Herrington & Oliver (2000, p. 26) and make up the essential foundations of authentic learning.  Each can be explored in further detail from sidebar links within the page as well.

  1. Provide authentic contexts that reflect the way the knowledge will be used in real life 
  2. Provide authentic tasks and activities 
  3. Provide access to expert performances and the modelling of processes 
  4. Provide multiple roles and perspectivesSupport collaborative construction of knowledge 
  5. Promote reflection to enable abstractions to be formed Promote articulation to enable tacit knowledge to be made explicit
  6. Provide coaching and scaffolding by the teacher at critical times
  7. Provide for authentic assessment of learning within the tasks.

So I guess there are overlaps between many of the A to Zs of learning Ls but this is my ‘A’ and next time it will be…. ‘B’ 🙂


Herrington, J., & Oliver, R. (2000). An instructional design framework for authentic learning
environments. Educational Technology Research and Development, 48(3), 23-48.

Lombardi, M. M. (2007). Authentic learning for the 21st century: An overview. Educause learning initiative, 1(2007), 1-12.

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2 thoughts on “‘A’ is for Authentic Learning – the A to Z of Learning Ls

  1. Pingback: The complete (almost) A to Z of learning Ls | Kristina Hollis

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