Keeping It Real: Authentic Learning Through Digital Media

By Vanessa Eisch, Engage Communications
February 18, 2013

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From documenting Lutefisk dinners to helping an elderly patient choose a cold medicine, Engage's newest awardees remove barriers to authentic learning using digital media through the Adaptation Situated Learning: Case, Story, and Place Award.

"People are addressing real teaching challenges with these and they are really exciting stories for us to tell across campus," says Christine Lupton, Engage Project Manager.

Engage added two more success stories to the program's collection at a community event last fall. Faculty and instructional staff from the UW Folklore Department and School of Pharmacy shared their experiences with situated learning with colleagues from across campus.


Steve Oakes, School of Pharmacy, presenting

Tim Frandy (Folklore), Rebecca Karr (UW Libraries) and Meg Turville-Heitz (Anthropology) addressed the teaching challenge of giving undergraduate students real world experience in ethnographic fieldwork.

"We need to teach students to go out in communities and it's scary for them," says Frandy.

The team used the ARIS notebook feature to create student-centered learning space for ethnographic documentation. Students interviewed and photographed everything from drummers on State Street to birthdays at the Nitty Gritty and then created public online production of this documentation.

Tim Frandy, Folklore, presenting

"Students are teaching each other through the online space how to interact and how to process the material," explains Frandy.

Clinical assistant professor Steve Oakes' (School of Pharmacy) teaching challenge was giving 140 third year pharmacy students simulated real-world experience recommending non-prescription drugs in a community pharmacy.

He turned to Engage's Situated Learning award and the Case Scenario/Critical Reader (CSCR) authoring tool for a solution to his teaching challenge.

Blaire Bundy, Academic Technology, presenting

With the help of AT technology consultants Blaire Bundy, Les Howles and Timmo Dugdale, Oakes created an interactive case scenario where students conduct a virtual interview with a patient to help find an appropriate cold medication. The simulation is complete with real distractions, as well as feedback on outcomes of decisions and value in appropriate and pointed questions.

"That's one of the great things in dealing with these guys [Engage]. There's always been a push to keep it as real as you can, so that students will obtain the greatest amount of value from this process," Oakes says.