Authentic Learning on the Web: Guidelines for Course Design
Jan Herrington (University of Wollongong, Australia), Ron Oliver (Edith Cowan University, Australia) and Anthony Herrington (University of Wollongong, Australia)
Copyright: © 2007
In response to the growing influence of constructivism as a philosophical approach to learning, and a wide range of research studies investigating alternative models of teaching and learning over the last decade, many universities have experimented with the development of ‘authentic’ learning environments. How successful they have been in this quest is a subject of some debate. For instance, Gayeski (2005) has argued: Many of today’s programs are no better than those from the early days of interactive video—in fact, they are worse. We still see too many textbooks or PowerPoint slides ‘ported’ over to the Web with a few links or silly questions added to make them ‘interactive’ (p. 98) The challenge instructors face is to align university teaching and learning more substantially with the way learning is achieved in real-life settings, and to base instructional methods on recent theories of learning which reflect this shift, such as situated learning (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989; Collins, Brown, & Newman, 1989; McLellan, 1996; Choi & Hannafin, 1995). Authentic approaches, as well as requiring students to apply theory, also allow students to create theories by starting with a realistic problem, and then developing their own knowledge within the practical situations in which the need for learning was created. This chapter proposes nine critical characteristics of learning as a framework for the design of more authentic learning environments on the Web. The elements are based on situated learning theory and other compatible research, with particular emphasis on computer and Web-based applications.