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Evaluation of Authentic Learning environments



How many elements of authentic learning do I need?
We are often asked, do you need all the elements of the model to be able to call your learning environment authentic? Perhaps a better way to think of it is as a continuum, where you can assess the extent your learning environment aligns with each characteristic.

You can access an evaluation matrix (pdf) to assist reflection on how well your learning environment aligns with the authentic learning model.

The picture at right demonstrates (in part) how two quite different courses might be illustrated on the task dimension of the matrix. The task on the right is more authentic as judged on all the elements because it provides a realistic and complex task that requires decision-making by students, and takes a few weeks of a semester course to complete. The task on the left is a more academic decontextualised one, with limited resources, taking only minutes or hours to complete.

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(From Tom Reeves’ EvaluateItNow website)

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An authentic learning matrix


Real or realistic? Authentic learning occurs in classrooms
Can a learning environment be called authentic if it is completed in a classroom or on campus? Yes, we think so! Authentic does not necessarily mean real (as in practicums and internships). As a pedagogical model, authentic learning means that realistic tasks set in academic settings can challenge students to think and solve problems just as professionals do in the real world.

Video: 3:27 minutes

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Quadrant 1

Academic tasks set in academic settings

Quadrant 2

Academic tasks set in a real setting

Quadrant 3

Real tasks set in a real workplace

Quadrant 4

Realistic tasks set in an academic setting 

Further resources

Link to sites, books , papers and other resources on authentic learning and authentic e-learning