Advertisement

Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Designing authentic activities in web-based courses

Abstract

INFLUENCED by constructivist educational theory and advances in technology, there is increasing interest in authentic activities as a basis for learning in both face-to-face and Web-based courses. Whereas traditionally, real-world activities have primarily served as vehicles for practice of skills or processes that are taught using traditional instructional methods, a more radical approach is to build a whole course of study around authentic activities and tasks. The authors of this paper argue that the value of authentic activity is not constrained to learning in real-life locations and practice, but that there are critical characteristics of authentic activities that can be incorporated into the design of Web-based courses to enhance learning online. We include a description of the theory, research, and development initiatives that provide the foundations for this approach. Finally, we present guidelines and examples for the design of complex authentic activities for online learning, together with the implications of this approach for teachers, students, and designers.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Barab, S.A., & Landa, A. (1997). Designing effective interdisciplinary anchors.Educational Leadership, 54, 52–55.

  2. Barab, S.A., Squire, K.D., & Dueber, W. (2000). A co-evolutionary model for supporting the emergence of authenticity.Educational Technology Research and Development, 48(2), 37–62.

  3. Bennett, S., Harper, B., & Hedberg, J. (2001). Designing real-life cases to support authentic design activities. In G. Kennedy, M. Keppell, C. McNaught, & T. Petrovic (Eds.),Meeting at the Crossroads. Proceedings of the 18th Annual Conference of the Australian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (pp. 73–81). Melbourne: Biomedical Multimedia Unit, The University of Melbourne.

  4. Bottge, B. A., & Hasselbring, T.S. (1993). Taking word problems off the page.Educational Leadership, 50(7), 36–38.

  5. Boud, D., & Solomon, N. (Eds.) (2001).Work-Based Learning: A New Higher Education? Buckingham, UK: SRHE and Open University Press.

  6. Bransford, J. D., Sherwood, R.D., Hasselbring, T.S., Kinzer, C.K., & Williams, S.M. (1990a). Anchored instruction: Why we need it and how technology can help. In D. Nix & R. Spiro (Eds.),Cognition, education and multimedia: Exploring ideas in high technology (pp. 115–141). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

  7. Bransford, J. D., Vye, N., Kinzer, C., & Risko, V. (1990b). Teaching thinking and content knowledge: Toward an integrated approach. In B. F. Jones & L. Idol (Eds.),Dimensions of thinking and cognitive instruction (pp. 381–413). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

  8. Brophy, J., & Alleman, J. (1991). Activities as instructional tools: A framework for analysis and evaluation.Educational Researcher, 20(4), 9–23.

  9. Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning.Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32–42.

  10. Clayden, E., Desforges, C., Mills, C., & Rawson, W. (1994). Authentic activity and learning.British Journal of Educational Studies, 42(2), 163–173.

  11. Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1990a). Anchored instruction and its relationship to situated cognition.Educational Researcher, 19(6), 2–10.

  12. Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1990b). Technology and the design of generative learning environments.Educational Technology, 31(5), 34–40.

  13. Cronin, J. C. (1993). Four misconceptions about authentic learning.Educational Leadership, 50(7), 78–80.

  14. Duchastel, P. C. (1997). A Web-based model for university instruction.Journal of educational technology systems, 25(3), 221–228.

  15. Duffy, T. M., Lowyck, J., & Jonassen, D. H. (Eds.). (1993).Designing environments for constructive learning. Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.

  16. Eyler, J., & D. E. Giles, J. (1999).Where’s the Learning in Service-Learning? San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

  17. Fitzsimmons, J. (2001).Designing an effective online unit: Theory and practice. Paper presented at the Teaching Online in Higher Education Online Conference, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, Indiana. [Online]. Available: http:/ /www.ipfw.edu/as/tohe/2001/abstracts/fitzsimmons.htm.

  18. Gordon, R. (1998). Balancing real-world problems with real-world results.Phi Delta Kappan, 79, 390–393.

  19. Herrington, J., & Herrington, A. (1998). Authentic assessment and multimedia: How university students respond to a model of authentic assessment.Higher Education Research and Development, 17(3), 305–322.

  20. Herrington, J., Oliver, R., & Reeves, T.C. (2002, December).The suspension of disbelief in authentic online learning environments, Paper presented at the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education Conference, Auckland, New Zealand.

  21. Honebein, P. C., Duffy, T. M., & Fishman, B. J. (1993). Constructivism and the design of learning environments: Context and authentic activities for learning. In T. M. Duffy, J. Lowyck, & D. H. Jonassen (Eds.),Designing environments for constructive learning (pp. 87–108). Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.

  22. Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T., & Smith, K. A. (1998).Active learning: Cooperation in the college classroom. Edina, MN: Interaction Books.

  23. Jonassen, D. (1991). Evaluating constructivistic learning.Educational Technology, 31(9), 28–33.

  24. Kantor, R.J., Waddington, T., & Osgood, R.E. (2000). Fostering the suspension of disbelief: The role of authenticity in goal-based scenarios.Interactive Learning Environments, 8(3), 211–227.

  25. Koenders, A. (2002). Creating opportunities from challenges in on-line introductory biology. In A. Goody, J. Herrington, & M. Northcote (Eds.),Quality conversations: Research and Development in Higher Education, Volume 25 (pp. 393–400). Jamison, ACT: HERDSA.

  26. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991).Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  27. Lebow, D., & Wager, W. W. (1994). Authentic activity as a model for appropriate learning activity: Implications for emerging instructional technologies.Canadian Journal of Educational Communication, 25(3), 231–244.

  28. Luca, J., & Oliver, R. (2001). Developing generic skills through on-line courses. In C. Montgomerie & J. Viteli (Eds.),Proceedings of Ed-Media 2001 (Vol. 2, pp. 1163–1164). Tampere, Finland: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education.

  29. McLellan, H. (1997). Creating virtual communities via the web. In B. H. Khan (Ed.),Web-based instruction (pp. 185–190). Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Educational Technology Publications.

  30. McLellan, H. (Ed.). (1996).Situated learning perspectives. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

  31. Miles, M.B., & Huberman, A.M. (1994).Qualitative data analysis: An expanded sourcebook (2nd. ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

  32. Myers, S. (1993). A trial for Dmitri Karamazov.Educational Leadership, 50(7).

  33. Oliver, R., & Omari, A. (1999). Using online technologies to support problem based learning: Learners responses and perceptions.Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 15(158–79).

  34. Pennell, R., Durham, M., Ozog, M., & Spark, A. (1997). Writing in context: Situated learning on the web. In R. Kevill, R. Oliver, & R. Phillips (Eds.),What works and why: Proceedings of the 14th Annual Conference of the Australian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (pp. 463–469). Perth, WA: Curtin University.

  35. Perreault, H.R. (1999). Authentic activities for business education.Delta Pi Epsilon Journal, 41(1), 35–41.

  36. Petraglia, J. (1998). The real world on a short leash: The (mis)application of constructivism to the design of educational technology.Educational Technology Research and Development, 46(3), 53–65.

  37. Reeves, T.C. (2002). Distance education and the professorate: The issue of productivity. In C. Vrasidas & G. V. Glass (Eds.),Distance education and distributed learning (135–156). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

  38. Reeves, T.C., Herrington, J., & Oliver, R. (2002). Authentic activities and online learning. In A. Goody, J. Herrington, & M. Northcote (Eds.),Quality conversations: Research and Development in Higher Education, Volume 25 (pp. 562–567). Jamison, ACT: HERDSA.

  39. Reeves, T.C., & Laffey, J.M. (1999). Design, assessment, and evaluation of a problem-based learning environment in undergraduate engineering.Higher Education Research and Development Journal, 18(2), 219–232.

  40. Reeves, T.C., & Okey, J.R. (1996). Alternative assessment for constructivist learning environments. In B. G. Wilson (Ed.),Constructivist learning environments: Case studies in instructional design (pp. 191–202). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

  41. Resnick, L. (1987). Learning in school and out.Educational Researcher, 16(9), 13–20.

  42. Schon, D.A. (1987).Educating the reflective practitioner: Toward a new design for teaching and learning in the professions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

  43. Shulman, L. (2000). Inventing the future. In P. Hutchings (Ed).Opening lines: Approaches to the scholarship of teaching and learning. Menlo Park, CA: Carnegie Publications. [Online]. Available: http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/elibrary/docs/ inventing.htm

  44. Stanton, T.K., Giles, Jr., D.E., & Cruz, N.I. (1999).Service-learning: A movement’s pioneers reflection on its origins, practice, and future. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

  45. Sternberg, R.J., Wagner, R.K., & Okagaki, L. (1993). Practical intelligence: The nature and role of tacit knowledge in work and at school. In J. M. Puckett & H. W. Reese (Eds.),Mechanisms of everyday cognition (pp. 205–227). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

  46. Wilson, B. G. (Ed.). (1996).Constructivist learning environments: Case studies in instructional design. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

  47. Wineburg, S.S. (1989). Remembrance of theories past.Educational Researcher, 18(5), 7–10.

  48. Winn, W. (1993). Instructional design and situated learning: Paradox or partnership.Educational Technology, 33(3), 16–21.

  49. Young, M.F. (1993). Instructional design for situated learning.Educational Technology Research and Development, 41(1), 43–58.

  50. Young, M.F. (1995). Assessment of situated learning using computer environments.Journal of Science Education and Technology, 4(1), 89–96.

  51. Young, M.F., & McNeese, M. (1993). A situated cognition approach to problem solving with implications for computer-based learning and assessment. In G. Salvendy & M. J. Smith (Eds.),Human-computer interaction: Software and hardware interfaces, (Vol. II, pp. 825–830). New York: Elsevier Science Publishers.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Jan Herrington.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Herrington, J., Reeves, T.C., Oliver, R. et al. Designing authentic activities in web-based courses. J. Comput. High. Educ. 16, 3–29 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02960280

Download citation

Keywords

  • authentic activities
  • characteristics of authentic activities
  • Web-based learning environments
  • online courses