An instructional design framework for authentic learning environments

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The instructional technology community is in the midst of a philosophical shift from a behaviorist to a constructivist framework, a move that may begin to address the growing rift between formal school learning and real-life learning. One theory of learning that has the capacity to promote authentic learning is that of situated learning.

The purpose of this three-part study was first, to identify critical characteristics of a situated learning environment from the extensive literature base on the subject; second, to operationalize the critical characteristics of a situated learning environment by designing a multimedia program that incorporated the identified characteristics; and third, to investigate students' perceptions of their experiences using a multimedia package based on a situated learning framework.

The learning environment, for preservice teachers, comprised a multimedia program on assessment in mathematics together with recommended implementation conditions for the classroom. Eight students were observed and interviewed to explore their perceptions of the situated learning environment. Findings suggest that the use of the situated learning framework provided effective instructional design guidelines for the design of an environment for the acquisition of advanced knowledge.

Since 1992, as a Senior Instructional Designer, she has worked principally in multimedia and Web-based projects.
He has been teaching with, and researching innovative uses of, instructional technologies in secondary schools and universities for the past 20 years.
The authors would like to thank Professor Tom Reeves for his encouragement and support, and to acknowledge the significant role he has played in the development of our ideas and research direction.