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Authenticity in Learning for the Twenty-First Century: Bridging the Formal and the Informal

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Educational Technology Research and Development Volume 60, Number 6, ISSN 1042-1629


The paper attempts to bridge informal and formal learning by leveraging on affordance structures associated with informal environments to help learners develop social, cognitive, and metacognitive dispositions that can be applied to learning in classrooms. Most studies focus on either learning in formal or informal contexts, but this study seeks to link the two. The paper proposes three tenets to augment de-contextualized learning in schools by putting back the: (a) tacit, (b) social-collective, and (c) informal. This paper seeks to advance the argument for a consideration of how formal learning might be made more authentic by leveraging the affordances of informal learning. Two case examples are illustrated. The first case shows learners operating in a virtual environment in which--through the collaborative manipulation of terrain--adopt the epistemic frame of geomorphologists. The case seeks to illustrate how the tacit and social-collective dimensions from the virtual environment might be incorporated as part of the formal geography curriculum. In the second case, interactions between members of a school bowling team highlight the contextualized and authentic metacognitive demands placed on learners/bowlers, and how these demands are re-contextualized--through metacognitive brokering--to the formal curriculum. Productive linkages are made between informal and formal learnings and anchored through learners' authentic experiences.


Hung, D., Lee, S.S. & Lim, K.Y.T. (2012). Authenticity in Learning for the Twenty-First Century: Bridging the Formal and the Informal. Educational Technology Research and Development, 60(6), 1071-1091. Retrieved March 6, 2021 from .

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