Authentic, contextualized, and real-world learning

Learning is more interesting when you learn things you need and skills you can use right away. Studying a degree means that you have to learn things you don’t find essential or fascinating at all, but since they are part of curriculum you just have to leave your comfort zone and familiarize yourself with also dull themes you probably never need. When I was studying my Bachelor’s degree, accounting was such topic for me. I most certainly knew that I may be many things in my life but I’ll never be an accountant! Yet I managed to wade through the course I hated more than I can say…

Last year I found a hobby that is really made for me: fishing! I spent hours after hours with my spinning rod to learn the right technique. I didn’t even think of quitting because I succeeded in what I was doing. I caught a fish after another and even when I didn’t, I enjoyed every moment. At the same time my feelings about studying was quite different… When you want to learn something that really interests you, you are ready to spend hours and hours to internalize a new skill or to understand a theory. The main word is relevancy. When you study something that is relevant for you, you will be more motivated.

Working with real-life problems makes learning more interesting and when you are able to combine the things you already know with new things all pieces start to fall into place. When you are taught skills you need, you find a meaning to learning and contextualization has really succeeded.

Authentic learning is real-world related and learning tasks are designed to innovate educators. There are 10 design elements that form the essence of authentic learning:

1. Real-world relevance
Real world tasks makes learning more authentic.

2. Ill defined problem
Authentic activities are open to multiple interpretations.

3. Sustained investigation
Tasks require thorough familiarization and they will not be solved in minutes.

4. Multiple sources and perspectives
Learners will use many resources and they learn to see the difference between important and meaningless information.

5. Collaboration
Learners have to co-operate when they are doing tasks.

6. Reflection
Learners will reflect their learning.

7. Interdisciplinary perspective
Wider perspective and use of knowledge is needed in doing tasks.

8. Integrated assessment
Formative assessment attached to activities and tasks.

9. Polished products
There will be an output, not just tasks without purpose.

10. Multiple interpretations and outcomes
There is not only one solution, but many possibilities to solve the problem.
(Marilyn May Lombardi, 2007)

Authentic Learning by Dr Lam Bick Har
Authentic Learning for the 21st Century: An Overview by Marilyn May Lombardi
Authentic learning: what, why and how? e-Teaching
Contextualization:Creating a Support System for Contextualized Instruction A Toolkit for Program Managers

Back to the Future

Back to the past

When I went to school I lived in a small village where there were only about 50-60 students in whole school. First six grades of the comprehensive school we had two grades in the same classroom (e.g. 3rd and 4th grade). It was quite challenging to study e.g. history when I happened to be on the grade where we started from Middle Ages and then next year we went back to Stone Age. The other class was far luckier since they had a chance to study those subjects in correct order. Afterwards I think it was good practice for future studies.

Since the school was so small we didn’t have many technological equipment. We had an overhead projector and sometimes teacher showed us something with a slide projector.

Technology used in junior high school was almost the same as in elementary school. Language laboratory was a great place to learn English and Swedish but because there was only one of them we had a chance to be there maybe two times a month.

In junior high school we were offered a chance to take a computer course but since we didn’t have computer at home there was no need to take that. The first computer I ever saw was in my friends home where they had Commodor 64, back in 1984…

In upper secondary school we had some computers but they were only for teachers. Still overhead projector was the hi-tech in our classrooms. Television and videos were used in teaching quite often. Also more possibilities to study in language laboratory.

Though we didn’t use very much technology I think we learned all the things we needed to.

It was quite a jump into a totally different world when I studied my Bachelor’s degree in Lapland UAS. Studies were online and I visited Tornio only two times. Technology in learning became familiar and after that I wouldn’t want to go back to a classroom. It’s too small and boring for me. I want to have the whole world with me when I’m learning new things!

And what do we have now?

I work in Metropolia UAS in Education Development Services. I use many technologies every day. I have my laptop and smartphone with me where ever I go. I  can work in my office, at home or where ever I want. Actually without my laptop I could do barely nothing so technology has very important role in my work.

Our team  has WhatsApp group, we use Office 365, Google Drive etc. The greatest advantage of this is that I can be reached were ever I am and I also have access to all information I need to serve our students and personnel.

New information systems are developed in Metropolia all the time to help our work and gladly we also have a chance to influence on new systems. It is important because we are the ones using these systems and it’s better to be part of the process from the very beginning.

Back in 1989 I couldn’t have foreseen how important role technology has in my life nowadays. At that time we were just learning to understand that computers are going to have some kind of  role in our lives.