I decided to remix the Reeves, Herrington, and Oliver criteria1 to better represent the phases and subphases in the overall process of developing authentic learning activities. This shrinks the list from ten to seven items, with the “extras” embedded in other items. The result, I think, is a more familiar and systematic problem-solving process.
A. Simulation of real world roles: “Authentic activities have real-world relevance.”
B. Problem definition: “Authentic activities are ill-defined, requiring students to define the tasks and sub-tasks needed to complete the activity.”
A. Open approach: Authentic activities (1) “provide the opportunity for students to examine the task from different perspectives, using a variety of resources”; (2) “can be integrated and applied across different subject areas and lead beyond domain-specific outcomes”; (3) “allow competing solutions and diversity of outcome.”
B. Networking: “Authentic activities provide the opportunity to collaborate.”
C. Sustained effort: “Authentic activities comprise complex tasks to be investigated by students over a sustained period of time.”
A. Standalone outcome: “Authentic activities create polished products valuable in their own right rather than as preparation for something else.”
A. Review: Authentic activities (1) “provide the opportunity to reflect” and (2) “are seamlessly integrated with assessment.”
The wild card that runs through this entire process and makes it manageable for teachers in a wide range of instructional environments is scalability. The process has to be viewed as downwardly scalable, based on factors such as grade level, subject matter or field of study, ability/achievement levels, teacher-student ratio, instructional resources, time frame, etc.
Two other characteristics of this process is that the phases aren’t discrete and the progression is recursive rather than linear. The phases overlap in many interesting and dynamic ways, and students will return to and revise earlier phases based on formative evaluations.
Online technology can be an integral part of all phases, but its greatest advantage is probably in IIB, networking. With the web, opportunities for collaboration are expanded beyond space and time limitations, and this advantage can be applied to all four phases.
1 Thomas C. Reeves, Jan Herrington, and Ron Oliver, “Authentic Activities and Online Learning,” HERDSA 2002 conference.