Special Interest Group for Authentic Learning Opportunities

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Abstract

The walls of the classroom need to be broken down, not in acts of mayhem, but in authenticity of learning. Authentic learning opportunities occur when students interpret, collaborate, and investigate to solve real-world problems and produce polished products, which in turn promotes critical thinking and increases student motivation. Bringing authentic learning opportunities to the forefront of the classroom can be a daunting task, but it is a task that has been made easier with increasing technological resources. Our group, Special Interest Group for Authentic Learning Opportunities (SIGALO), is dedicated to understanding why authentic learning opportunities are essential in today’s classroom and how to turn these opportunities into applicable activities and assessments using technological resources. In doing so, student work will naturally lend itself to an authentic audience. With today’s learning culture becoming increasingly collaborative and web-based, the days are over in which learning only happens between the morning and afternoon bells and remains within the classroom walls. By utilizing authentic learning opportunities, educators can better serve the students of the twenty-first century.

SIGALO's Purpose
SIGALOs purpose is to be a resource for educators, which promotes authentic learning opportunities using technology in which content, authentic assignments and authentic audiences interact to promote student motivation, engagement, and learning.

What do we mean by authentic opportunities?
The word authentic is rooted in the Greek word auto- + -hentes. Auto means “self” and hentes means “doer” or “worker” (Eddy, Lawrence, 2013). Therefore, authentic opportunities are those in which the student (self) is meaningfully engaged (doer) in experiences that have the ability to transcend the classroom walls.

What is an authentic audience?
The idea of an authentic audience is subjective to many different factors, including teacher and student mindsets. In order to categorize this to fit SIGALOs focus and purpose, authentic audience is being looked at as an opportunity in which the student can submit work and receive feedback from someone other than their teacher(s).

What are authentic assignments?

Authentic assignments are those that tie directly to student value and perception of being useful, either in content gained or skills used. Usefulness does not always have to be directly linked to the real world, but the knowledge and understandings that emerge must seem applicable either to interests, the school, the community, and/or the people within their lives. Therefore, teachers must find ways to build upon students’ prior knowledge, interests, and skills and combine this with content and pedagogical knowledge. The technological tools that they may choose to use need to incorporate these factors.

Why is creating an authentic audience important?

In today’s digital world, students have a new outlet to find meaning/value in their work. Collective learning is not just meant for the business world; collaboration is key to building relationships with the school community and beyond. These opportunities for self-expression, initiating change, and personal growth all lend themselves to having an authentic audience built right into learning activities and assessments.