Let’s Get Real!
“Authentic learning is the essential setting that education requires to move towards sustainable, meaningful, relevant learning in the 21st century.” Steve Revington
Authentic learning means real world, learner-centered learning. Audrey Rule of the State University of New York at Oswego considers it learning through applying knowledge in real-life contexts and situations.
Although applied to children in the educational system, as described by F. Newmann, H. Marks and A. Gamoran, I think its precepts are just as applicable to adults:
“Teachers provide opportunities for students to construct their own knowledge through engaging in self-directed inquiry, problem solving, critical thinking, and reflections in real-world contexts. This knowledge construction is heavily influenced by the student’s prior knowledge and experiences, as well as by the characteristics that shape the learning environment, such as values, expectations, rewards, and sanctions. Education is more student-centered. Students … experience and apply information in ways that are grounded in reality.“ learning through applying knowledge
Four Characteristics of Authentic Learning
According to Ms. Rule, there are four characteristics of authentic learning
- An activity that involves real-world problems…
2. Use of open-ended inquiry, thinking skills and metacognition.
3. Students engage in discourse and social learning in a community of learners.
4. Students direct their own learning in project work.
Peer Learning Groups and Authentic Learning
I have written previously about the use of peer learning groups as an innovative method of professional development for managers. Peer learning groups are structured to enable authentic learning for adults.
In peer learning groups, the managers focus on a real-world problem in their worksite. They use inquiry and thinking skills to share their knowledge and experience and learn from provided materials. The peer learning group serves as a small (6-member) community of learners within the context of their own worksite. The managers themselves select their focus. Because peer learning groups are self-directed and self-managed, the managers facilitate their own learning. They also reflect on what they have learned.
Training Needs to Get Real
Training needs to get real and let the learners use their existing knowledge and inquiry to discover the answers to relevant real-world problems. Only then will learning be truly authentic. In the meantime, peer learning groups can effectively fill the void.
For more information about peer learning groups, please go to www.peerlearninginstitute.com
Deborah Laurel is the Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer of the Peer Learning Institute that helps managers increase performance, productivity and customer satisfaction through peer learning and knowledge sharing. For more information, please visit http://www.peerlearninginstitute.com.