Nowadays we bling everything. Bling refers to the imaginary shine and sound a diamond makes when it is hit perfectly by the light. Today we bling our car, phone and bags. In education, we also bling. We take the newest, shiniest trend word and we bling it out. We use it at meetings, we use it in lesson plans, we literally drink from the blingedwater of the educational buzzword fountain.
This got me thinking: When are we going to stop blinging it and start bringing it? How can we take the buzzwords and apply them as examples of great education? In a few short blogposts I will look at some of the current buzzwords and explore how they are (ab)used and how they can be applied in learning. Today I dive into real-world and authentic projects.
You hear it very often. Real-world problems, projects and authentic situations. Authenticity is interchangeable with-real world in this context.
Wanting our learning environment work to mirror the real world is definitely a good thing and builds on 21st century skills. But a lot of the times real world becomes out of their world. When we think real-world we unintentionally think of our own personal world. So we tend to build learning opportunities that place students in job or life experiences that are often pulled from our personal schema. You are the management of a school, you are the coach of a Olympic team, you are a CEO of a company or you have just bought your first home. This are all examples of real world things that are not real for students. Situations like these are out of their world. In order to be authentically real-world, we must provide opportunities that are relevant to our students’ current world.
Real-world or authentic learning can be defined as tasks where students learn by doing, that mirror life’s complexities, and where students contribute to communities. To do that educators must step into the world of their students. We have to give them situations and connections that are real to their world now. If we offer students connections and situations that are so close to home that they can actually, physically, right this minute, do something about it, then we are giving them their-world experiences.
One model for excellent real-world learning is project-based learning. When implementing those kinds of tasks, you’ll get a lot closer to offering true real-world learning experiences.