27 November 2011

Authenticity and representation: Learning design issues

Whenever I see conversations about virtual environments (usually Second Life) for learning, I'm struck by the absence of discussion about authenticity and representation. A post in Google+ that referred to this blog on simulations got me thinking. By authenticity, I mean the "realness" of the stuff of learning and performance. By representation I mean the representation of objects, actions and experiences in mediated environments. Allen, Otto and Hoffman (2004) put it succinctly here. "The actions afforded by media are rarely the same as those afforded by imaginary or real environments represented by these media." For example, text-chatting is an authentic form of communication online. It's not however in a hospital setting between a nurse and a patient. Is a simulation of nurse/patient communication with text-chat authentic enough?


Allen, B.S., & Otto, R.G., & Hoffman, B. (2004). Media as lived environments: the ecological
psychology of educational technology. In D.H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research for
educational communications and technology, 2nd Ed. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
(ISBN: 0-8058-4145-8).