Thursday, February 20, 2014

How I realized Twitter could be Authentic Learning...

Each week, teachers in my school district, Northwest ISD, gather together via Twitter to share and learn together about a variety of topics.  #NISDCHAT is held every Sunday evening (8:30) with teacher(s) volunteers to facilitate the discussion.  About a year ago, I decided to read along to see what it was all about.  I now know this practice is called "lurking", but back then I just wanted to see what all the chatter was about and if it was really "authentic" learning.  What I found was more than I could have imagined....a small, but dedicated group of educators taking time to discuss and share about what mattered most to them in education.  It was enlightening read about their daily struggles and wonderful celebrations. In time, I have seen this group and others in our District (Don't miss #NISDNOV8 on Tuesdays) grow and become even more diverse as the discussions broadened to all sorts of educational issues.  I mean, where else do you find primary grade teachers sharing with high school teachers about the best ways to give feedback to students?

This past week, the #NISDCHAT's topic asked teachers from around the District to post pictures of "authentic" learning. What a learning experience it was!!! Teachers from kindergarten through 12th grade shared their beliefs about what authentic learning means to them and their students with real examples. It was powerful professional development!

In this blog (my first), I hope to continue exploring what it means to give our students authentic learning experiences. The better we can define what that means, the more likely we are to provide them for our students. Can they apply their learning? Does it carry over to other disciplines?

Please share your viewpoints and ideas.  What do you consider authentic learning?


  1. I never imagined that so much of my PD would come from Twitter in 30 minute increments in my living room. This is a great first post!

    Authentic Learning (I had to think a bit on this and would be curious to hear answers of others, I think I'll visit previous #NISDCHAT tweets): Using resources and learned skills to continually connect information in a way that is relevant and applicable to real life.

  2. Been studying characteristics of adult learners this week. Learning activities that provide me opportunities to process and store in my own way ensures ownership of the skills or knowledge I'm working to acquire. So I see authenticity strongly linked to ownership. Not every single thing we teach students is immediately relevant to them; yet it can be an authentic learning experience if students are given power over the ways they acquire and store their learning- same as adult learners. Authentic learning is a wonderfully multi-faceted concept to explore, because it looks different to everyone!

  3. Laura, I love your description and think it is right on! Learning may become authentic in the future for many, but sometimes it is not until they "need it". Kind of like my dad teaching me to change a tire in the garage....not the same as on the side of the rode, but I was glad to know how when I needed it.

  4. This post got me thinking about how I view authentic learning in my practice, specifically the professional development part. For any learning to be authentic it must be real and relatable. Choice (in structure and topic) is a way we cultivate these experiences with our students and teachers. You can stare at a class of 30 faces and authentic learning looks different for each. The same applies with professionals. Some prefer to learn face to face with reflective discussions, while others prefer online where they research and explore at their own pace.

    Then there’s Twitter. It has taken off like wild fire for a group of dedicated educators that are often teacher leaders, innovators, fast learners, quick witted personalizes, and have been searching for a professional development structure that they could authentically grow from. These educators want interactions and ideas that are quick and offer immediate implementation. Summer time PD just wasn’t cutting it for this group of learners. No wonder they gravitated toward Twitter!

    Then there are the learners that authentically grow from blog posts and online articles. (Finger points at self!!) I love reading different perspectives from those committed enough to post their ideas online. Reading blogs gives me time to process, reflect, and see how the ideas fit in my world. Then if I’m feeling a little energetic, the option is always there to comment!