Authenticity in Learning


The learning process is very complex. As a result, implementingauthentic learning in a normal classroom is not easy, despite thebenefits associated with it.Adoption of emerging technologies inthe 21st century classrooms can result into moreauthenticity in the learning process. This is because technologiescan effectively create an authentic learning experience which enablesthe individual learners to understand themselves and the world aroundthen. These technologies include the internet, simulation andvisualization technologies as well as new channels of communication.Through the use of technology, it is possible to reconstructactivities that took place in the past, use remote instruments toobserve phenomenon and connect with educators and mentors in diverselocations. Development physiologists and educationists have arguedthat learning about science, for example, is different from learningto be a scientist. Scientific facts and formulae do not make sense toa learner until when he or she is able to practice them in the realworld (Lombardi, 61). This way, the learner understands the conceptsbased on his or her own experience rather that what the teacher says.Emerging information and communication technology has an importantrole to play in promoting authenticity in learning, which leads to abetter understanding of oneself. The aim of this project is todemonstrate how technology can be used to enhance authentic learningin the modern learning environment.

According to Snape and Fox-Turnbull (p 52), authenticity can be viewsas “to make individuals more whole, more integrated, more fullyhuman, more aware, more content with their personal and professionallives, their actions more clearly linked to purpose, empowered,better able to engage in community with other and so forth”. Potter(p 8) argues that authenticity refers to what is real and honestpeople are willing to go to any length to be real authentic. Potter (p 8) argued that the modernity is influenced by authenticity, whichrefers to “rejection of the various tributaries of mass society’scurrent, including the media, marketing, fast food, party politics,the Internet, and—above all—the program of free markets andeconomic integration usually derided as ‘globalization”.Authentic learning aims at promoting confidence, creativity and connectivity of the learners. This means that the ultimate vision ofauthentic learning is ensuring that the learners live authentically,both as learners as well as later in their lives. The cores ofauthentic learning are thinking and understanding rather thanlearning and knowledge. It emphasized on the real world learningexperiences, real problems and solutions, role playing, activitiesbased on problems and cases studies and participative learning.However, it is important to note that the normal learning environmentis multidiscipline. They are not specifically designed to teamgeometry or European history. There are only specific learningenvironment that are similar or close to the real world in which thetheory will be applies, for example, building a house or doingchemical analysis in a chemistry laboratory. According to Snape andFox-Turnbull (p 52), Authenticity in learning goes beyond the contentof what the learner is expected to know by bringing in the role ofhabits of mind and individual differences in the learning process.There are basic portable skills that are necessary in making thelearner whole and understanding his own self that are developedthrough authentic learning. These skilled include judgment, patience,synthetic ability and flexibility.

There is a general consensus that emerging technologies in thelearning environment promotes authentic learning. However, there aresome reservations. Traditionally, apprentice was the basic for oflearning that promoted authenticity in learning. This is because itenables students to learn from real life situations and experience.This form of learning has been diminished by the large number ofstudents in modern education systems. Other issues such as the riskassociated with intern students in workplaces emerged. This resultedinto introduction of technology in authentic learning. Although it isa controversial issue, the experiences and skills derived from reallife situations and experienced can be derived from technology basedlearning. This means that technology has introduced a new form ofauthentic learning since the thinking and learning is not constrainedto what is observed or experienced in the real world, but also in thevirtual world (Lombardi, p 145).

Although some experts have argued that the experiences in the webbased and technology based learning can not replace real lifesituations, there are significant studies that have revealed thevalue of technology in authentic learning. For example, it isimpossible to summon an earthquake or travel back in time for studentto understand some of the concepts from their own perspectives.However by using computer based technologies such as simulation andaugmented realities, it is possible to mimic the real earthquake in away that a student is able to make conclusions based on his or herown understanding. These technologies promote authentic learning inall learning disciplines. For example, in history, students can usetechnology to access numerous primary documents and informationrelated to the First World War. They can also access archives onhuman civilizations, hundreds or thousands of years ago. Based onthis information, the learners make their own conclusion such as thesocial and cultural characteristics of past civilization or thebackground and significance of historical events. Additionally,technologies enable learners to run virtual experiments that mimicreal life situations and gain experience in interpreting andanalyzing data (Lombardi, p 145). These experiences provide thestudies with opportunities to learn about complex patterns andmessiness in real life situation. Additionally, technology providesaspects of authentic learning that could not be provided in thetraditional classroom. This is because students are able to observephenomenon that would have remained opaque to the novices. This isthrough use of computer generated images, audios and visualizationwhich have facilitated the understanding of abstract phenomena(Lombardi, 174). For example, scientific concepts require learners toconstruct abstract models in their minds, using invisible forces,fields and interactions. Visualization devices enable learners tocleat their own mental view and understanding of these invisiblefactors. These are the basic facets of authentic learning process.

An important factor in authentic learning is therefore the role ofthe community in the understanding and development of self as well asapplication of learned concepts. As mentioned earlier, the primaryaim of authentic learning is to promote development of a whole personand integration, which are critical in the understanding of one self.Additionally, authentic learning promotes the understanding ofconcepts and the world from the learner’s perspective. Communitylearning is one of the major contributions of technology in authenticlearning. It enhances collaboration between learners and sharing ofknowledge and learning experiences. For example, internettechnologies enable borderless and timeless connection betweenlearners and their teachers, mentors or other learners from differentparts of the world. Although technologies have introduced a newversion of issues in learning such as plagiarism, which underminesauthentic learning, it has also introduced authentic learningcontents (Pahomov, p 9). In the modern learning environment, the useof technology reduces the over reliance on lecture notes that arebased on the teachers interpretation with primary documents and data.These promote problem based learning activities rather the teacherbased lectures.

In conclusion, authentic learning develops the notion of self amonglearners. This is by introducing learner’s perspective of thelearning material through thinking and understanding model oflearning rather than the teacher based knowledge model of learning.Authentic learn enables learners to derive their own perspectiveabout learn concepts through real life problem solving learningapproach. However, this is difficult to apply in the normalclassroom. In some cases, the basic concepts of authentic learningare impossible to apply. Despite this, learning the genre of thesubject or profession through practice and real life situations,especially among college and university students is more useful thatmemorizing the concepts. Advancement in technology promotes authenticlearning in several ways. In addition to enhancing collaboration andcommunity learning through advancement in communication andinformation technology, there are some learning technologies thatenable the student to access primary material for analysis orvisualize and create real life situation and experiences virtually.

Works cited

Lombardi, Marilyn. Authentic learning for the 21stcentury: An overview. Educause Learning Initiative, Paper1(2007).

Pahomov, Larissa. Authentic Learning in the Digital Age: EngagingStudents through Inquiry, ASCD, ISBN 1416619593, (2014).

Potter, Andrew. The authenticity hoax: how we get lost findingourselves, Toronto: Emblem Editions. (2011).

Snape, Paul. &amp Fox-Turnbull, Wendy. “Perspectives ofauthenticity: Implementation in technology education”, Int Jtechnol Des Educ, (2013), 23, p 51-68.