Authentic Learning


What is authentic learning and why is it needed?

About authentic learning

This site describes a model of authentic learning, based on 9 key elements that can be used to design authentic learning environments. It has been created to support courses and units using authentic learning and authentic e-learning.


  1. Provide authentic contexts that reflect the way the knowledge will be used in real life. 
  2. Provide authentic tasks and activities. 
  3. Provide access to expert performances and the modelling of processes. 
  4. Provide multiple roles and perspectives.
  5. Support collaborativeconstruction of knowledge.
  6. Promote reflection to enable abstractions to be formed.
  7. Promote articulation to enable tacit knowledge to be made explicit.
  8. Provide coaching and scaffolding by the teacher at critical times.
  9. Provide for authentic assessmentof learning within the tasks.
Explore these elements by clicking on the menu items on the left.

Read about the model and its implementation

Herrington, J., Reeves, T.C & Oliver, R. (2010). A guide to authentic e-learning. London and New York: Routledge.

Herrington, A., & Herrington, J. (Eds.) (2006). Authentic learning environments in higher education. Hershey, PA: Infosci.

Herrington, J., & Oliver, R. (2000). An instructional design framework for authentic learning environments. Educational Technology Research and Development, 48(3), 23-48.

Herrington, J. (2006). Authentic e-learning in higher education: Design principles for authentic learning environments and tasks. In T.C. Reeves & S. Yamashita (Eds.), Proceedings of E-Learn 2006 (pp. 3164-3173). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. (Keynote address)

Definition of authentic learning

Authentic learning is a framework for learning where students complete authentic tasks within authentic contexts. They explore multiple perspectives and resources, consult expert opinion, and research and create in collaborative settings where they can articulate and reflect upon their growing understanding. While working in academic settings (not necessarily real world placements), students create genuinely useful products (texts, artefacts, resources)  that can be assessed according to authentic criteria, and can be shared online to contribute to knowledge.

About This Site

Created by - Dr Jan Herrington

Emeritus Professor of Education
Murdoch University
Perth, Western Australia


This Site Supports

(You can download this book [pre-print] for free from here)
Jan Herrington, Thomas C Reeves, & Ron Oliver
Award: Outstanding Book of the Year, Association for Educational Communication and Technology (AECT) (2010)