The underground classic that explains how authentic activities help learners explore,
discuss, and meaningfully construct new knowledge


Activities that support learning

The activities shared in this book work because they are well thought-out and aligned with all other elements of the course. They work because we do not lecture. They work because we believe that every single participant brings a wealth of experiences to our course environment. We respect each and every one of them as a “more knowledgeable other”. This is what makes the collaborative learning so valuable to all of us, including mentors. The activities described in this book work because they are part of a long learning journey, where we believe the end is nothing, but the road is all. They also work in eLearning programmes, because it is never “me and the computer screen”, there is always a human face, a mentor who supports learners whenever they need.

They work because instead of shoveling information into learners’ brains and asking them to regurgitate it later, we focus on critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, and, most importantly, on conation.

They work, because we view failures as an opportunity to learn. They work because we understand that creativity and innovation is a long-term, cyclical process of small successes and frequent mistakes. They work because we do not stop the clock and distribute a test. Instead, assessment is embedded in all of our authentic tasks. This is what makes the biggest difference. Nothing is abstract - all activities are based on authentic learning principles, just like how things work in real-life.

These activities help learners to explore, discuss, and meaningfully construct concepts and relationships in contexts that involve real-world problems and projects that are relevant to them.

Foreword by Thomas Reeves

Go Authentic: Activities that Support Learning is, as Camus put it, a “gift to the future.” A future when learning will be active rather than passive, collaborative learning will be commonplace, tasks will be as authentic as possible, and assessment will be cherished rather than dreaded. In that hopefully near future, learning events will be as well-aligned as a precision racecar, and learning outcomes will be personally and professionally empowering. Ultimately, we hope that even participants in online versions of these authentic courses will shed tears when the courses are over just as they do now on the last day of the face-to-face courses. 

The need for transformational learning opportunities is evident in many fields beyond public health and pharmaceuticals. Enhancing human performance is absolutely essential if we are to meet the challenges facing humankind with respect to climate change, poverty, war, corruption, and the like. Arguably, we live in a time when education and training opportunities across all disciplines must become as transformative as the courses described in this book. To do this, the design and implementation of learning environments must be acts of “authentic creation” more than ever before. Please join us.

Why go authentic?

Authentic learning is a real-life learning. It is an instructional approach that allows learners to explore, discuss, and meaningfully construct concepts and relationships in contexts that involve real-world problems and projects that are relevant to learners. In authentic learning, facilitators provide opportunities for learners to construct their own knowledge through engaging in self-directed inquiry, problem solving, critical thinking, and reflections in real-world contexts. Facilitators mainly work to create a safe, nurturing and positive learning climate for participants. Albert Einstein said, “I never try to teach my students anything… I only try to create an environment where they can learn.”

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Activities that support learning

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21st century learning or 5Cs

This book focuses on selective activities that support learning. Each of them is reviewed from the 5Cs perspective and is accompanied by explanations about why to select them, where they fit in a learning event, and how they contribute to learning.

All activities have elements of critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. When it comes to conation, it is the active engagement of participants that we promote in order for them to experience that they can do it. With motivation and positive feedback, as well as post-learning event support systems, we help learners to incorporate what they have learned into practice. Though all these activities are given within a specific context, they can be adapted to other settings. It is important to align the activity and the objectives with special focus on the learner and instructor roles

Anatomy of a session

Say what you are going to say first (introduction), then say it (body) and
at the end say that you said it (summary).

The first few minutes of any session are the most critical ones. Participants may be thinking of other matters, wondering what the session would be like, or have less interest in the topic. You have to capture learners’ interest. Introduction should be as short as possible, having the target of attracting attention of the learners, excite them about learning, and help them to focus on the subject.

Body of the session is where both the information is delivered/discussed and participants take an active role in learning through various activities that support learning.

Summary is used to reinforce the contents of the presentation and provide a review of its main points.

Activities analyzed in GO AUTHENTIC

In all sessions, we use a variety of activities that support learning. Games generate tremendous interest through direct involvement of participants, and are widely used in introduction, body or summary sections of a session. Some activities fit better to certain parts of a session, and sometimes certain activities cannot be used in all parts.

  • Reviewing the session’s objectives
  • Sharing personal experiences
  • Recall of prior learning
  • Asking questions
  • Using a video
  • Relating the topic to real-life experiences
  • Relating the topic to future work experiences
  • The hook: challenging participants
  • Games for introduction
  • Get in line
  • Brick uses
  • Catch phrase
  • This is better than that
  • Put it together
  • Yarns (constructing a network)
  • Brainstorming
  • Group discussion
  • Guided imagery
  • Demonstration, drill and practice
  • Skit
  • Roleplay
  • Reflection
  • Case study
  • Concept mapping
  • Decision tree
  • Simulation
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Match game
  • Building a storyline
  • Envelope game
  • Verification game
  • Card games
  • Six toothpick riddle
  • Make a sentence
  • Puzzle sentence
  • Take away messages
  • Quiz
  • Fill in the blanks
  • Question and answer game
  • Match game
  • Chase game
  • Get in line
  • Stem and leaves
  • Tile and board games

and many more icebreakers and warmups

Warm-ups are a vital part of workshops, learning events and even meetings.
They help as a key factor in breaking down barriers between diverse people and loosening up.

Tombola (Bingo) / Three truths and one lie / Chat chat / Preferences / Mix and meet / Similarities / Connecting stories / Waiving the flag
The judge, lion and hunter / Rock-paper-scissors / Scrabble / Number sequence / Touch quickly / Line up / I have a letter for … / Who changed the action? / Blindfold ranking / Math teaser / Tap tap / Knots of people / Get in line / Pass the ball / Broken telephone / Tic-tac-toe / Earthquake or sold / Dragons / Musical chairs / I’ve been everywhere / Kartoshka / Grab the spoon