Authentic Learning

Engaging Students through Authentic Problems

Authentic learning is learning that happens when students participate in working on real-world problems. Using authentic problems and/or authentic contexts in your teaching engages the students by giving opportunities of solving complex real-world problems and finding out solutions so they practice the skills and knowledge that are relevant to their future workplace situations. Authentic learning allows students to create a meaningful, shared outcome or product. The problems that they work with are real life or simulated tasks that provide opportunities to connect directly with world outside of university.

The teacher’s approach to authentic learning differs notably from the approach of a “lecture” class. In authentic teaching the teacher provides a motivational challenge, necessary criteria, timeframes, resources and support to accommodate the students success and then sets the students to work. The teacher rather becomes a guide on the side than the all-knowing oracle. 

How to Implement Authentic Learning in your Teaching

Authentic learning activities can be role-playing exercises, problem based activities, case studies, and participation in different communities of practice. An exercise can be designing a specific product, plan a budget or to strategically solve a crisis situation. Processes become the predominant force and the content collected is often organized into portfolios.

Set the Scene
The teacher explains the scenario and gives context to the task. This can be small video cases from the industry She/he highlights what requirements and goals the students must meet.

Examination and break down
Students divide the main task into sub-tasks and examine in groups. When the problems has been identified they start investigating solutions

Solving the task
After the investigation and collection of information, students need to transform their knowledge and ideas into a product. The students’ practice practical and creative skills as they need to create a product for presentation. General engineering competences as communication and working with peers gets trained and used in this stage.

An important factor of authentic Learning is that the students get to present and share their result/product with the community – this can be class or industry. This allows students to learn from other groups and to get constructive feedback.

Supporting Authentic Learning witn Learning Technology

  • Walk-in studio - video filmed student presentations or for the teacher setting the scene
  • Wikis and blogs - for documenting the process
  • Clickshare devices - Quickly shift from one computerscreen to another in student presentations
  • Dropbox or Google Drive - share documents
  • Pencast - make small videos of handwriting/drawing
  • Screencast - creating tutorials or presentations by/for students

Reading & References

Authentic Learning