Technology for Authentic Learning

How can we use technology to facilitate authentic learning?

What does Authentic Learning look like?

In a technology enabled classroom, authentic learning is anything that inspires creativity, requires problem solving and critical thinking skills, working together in a group, or activities that require multiple complex steps. Using technology, ideas for this include; using Kahoot! to have the class work on studying for a test together, using Smore to create webpages about topics of interest, making videos to present projects rather than posters or powerpoints, and using popular apps and programs like StoryCorps, turnitin.com, Geometer's Sketch Pad, or Google Earth to learn about and create products for all subjects. App Smashing is another great way to incorporate authentic learning.

Why is this important?

Authentic Learning is important for a few reasons, the first of which being it prepares students for college and the real world. In the job market, you won't be tested on your ability to read from a book and pass a test, but on your ability to take a problem and come up with a creative solution for it using the resources available to you. What better way to prepare students for this than to implement this kind of learning throughout K12 education? Authentic Learning is also important because it engages students in the learning process more thoroughly than traditional learning methods. Engagement is important for remembering the information better, and also for critical thinking. Research has shown that giving students these kinds of learning opportunities increases their creativity and their empathy. That is powerful.

How can we Implement AL opportunities using Technology?

Based on my research, the first step to implementation is making sure the teachers are properly trained on what technology is available to them and how best to make use of it. I think this is best done using webinars, encouraging teachers to participate in twitter chats, using tools like Pinterest, PD workshops, and inservice days. Technology is a waste of money if it is not properly used. Secondly, a plan must be developed by the school district for how the devices will be purchased and monitored within the school. This is typically done using either a 1:1 plan for smaller systems or a BYOD plan for larger systems. Both plans can be successful if teachers, students, faculty and parents work together to make the best use of what is available to them.