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Inspiring Authentic Learning in the Digital Age

A central focus in education today must be student empowerment. One way to put learning in the students' hands is to ensure their part in the learning experience is in large part their own choice.

Recently I came across a book worth reading that talks about authentic learning with a very practical approach providing ways to both implement and think about making the change.

Larissa Pahomov's Authentic Learning in the Digital Age: Engaging Students Through Inquiry is definitely a read worth making time for.

Here are my takeaways that were both very validating and encouraging:

  • If we want to prepare kids for life we need to shift emphasis away from content toward skills using technology effectively

  • We need to effectively incorporate technology into learning because of its transformative effects on learning and engagement.

  • We need to consider these 5 core values for anchoring teaching and learning for depth and these core values are the structuring elements of the book: inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation, and reflection.

  • Choice must be a part of what fuels the inquiry and research

  • There is also a great section on modeling school-wide behaviors in these 5 core values that help solidify the pervasive beliefs and create consistency within the community.

  • Reflection is a huge part of learning and what I found to be particularly interesting was Pahomov's suggestion to start with it rather than just end with it. This idea of setting goals so there is something that guides learning is well thought out and worth a rethink.

The book has many useful ways for teachers to gain insight whether through the student perspectives or the specific feedback from teachers. There is a great appendix of resources that will also help start the transition in addition to the "making the shift" sections in each chapter.

There is so much great material out there now that supports the various learning elements to truly reform traditional education making students the focal point of their own learning. We can't ignore this shift if we truly want to prepare students for the 21st-century world we are releasing them into.

If you've read Pahomov's book, what were your takeaways? If you haven't, what book would you book on the list for essential reading on authentic learning around inquiry?

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