Experiential learning resources for the innovative educator
Authentic presentations are vital components of student-led project-based learning. The idea is for students to share their final products, new skills, and/or knowledge with an authentic audience with the purpose of making an impact.
But how? What are some ways of sharing PBL outcomes with a public and relevant audience? Let's talk about that.
"Authentic learning" is an important phrase in the project-based learning world. Authenticity is the foundation of PBL and plays a role in every step of the PBL process from project design to the final evaluation.
Authenticity is a feature that separates project-based learning from other teaching methods. Learning experiences, final products, sources of information, the presentation, assessments, reflections, etc. should all be authentic - i.e. relevant, real-world, have meaning in the lives of learners, and give students clarity of purpose.
For example, an authentic learning experience would be one in which a student interviews an oncologist. An authentic final product might be a mini-documentary that follows the experience of a cancer survivor. An authentic presentation would be hosting a community screening of that mini-documentary.
This post is specifically about that authentic presentation piece of project-based learning.
What is an Authentic Presentation?
An authentic presentation is the demonstration of new skills and knowledge to a relevant audience in the community.
The idea is that the information or the final product reaches an audience that could use the final product or benefit from the material in some way, where the learner can experience and visualize their new understanding of a concept or skill at play in real life.
An authentic presentation leaves a mark on the community, and depending on the nature of the presentation, it may make a profound long-term impact.
The Benefits of Authentic Presentations
The result of an authentic presentation is deeper learning that goes far above and beyond content knowledge. Learners construct meaning through real-life experiences. They see relevance and purpose as it relates to their lives. They also consider quality when they are expected to share their work publicly.
Adding learning outcomes such as authentic final products and authentic presentations to a portfolio deepens the experience that much further. Students showcase their accomplishments in a tangible way.
Grab my free digital project-based learning outcomes portfolio template that students can start using to showcase PBLs starting now!
Types of Authentic Presentations for Project-Based Learning
Reaching a relevant audience and making an impact on the community doesn't mean your students have to do public speeches every day.
Speaking to a community audience, such as performing an original skit on bullying at a local elementary assembly, is one way to deliver new skills and knowledge in an authentic way, among several others. Let's take a look at some of those authentic presentation options
The following is a list of authentic presentation options and examples of each in use. The examples are based on a student whose PBL is about symbiotic relationships.
The example student has chosen to create a series of infographics to demonstrate the nature of each symbiotic relationship and is determining a method of sharing the infographics with a relevant audience.
1) Distribute Final Product to a Relevant Audience in the Community:
The student could offer the infographics to university biology or ecology professors to use in their courses, or to students to use as a study tool.
2) Display the Final Product Somewhere in the Community:
With permission, the student could post a printed version of their infographics in the ecology section of the library, in the ecology department of local universities, in biology classrooms across the community, or in the visitor center of a nearby nature center.
3) Present the Final Product to a Relevant Audience in the Community:
The student could connect with the education director at a local forest preserve, state or national park, nature center, zoo, aquarium, etc, and then give a presentation to park visitors.
4) Publish the Final Product:
The student could ask a textbook company, ecology publication, kid's science magazine, etc. to print the infographics in their next issue.
5) Share the Final Product Digitally:
Sharing their infographics to the community through social media, a blog, a digital magazine, Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube, and Facebook groups are all examples of digital authentic presentations. Encourage students to get creative and dig deeper than simply publishing on social media, but these options are good starts.
The student could invite community experts, friends, family, and other relevant community members to watch them present their project at an organized exhibition night.
Implementing authentic experiences in your curriculum does not have to be chaotic or extra work. Even student-led learning can have structure and should be teacher-facilitated not teacher-directed.
For a little extra help with that facilitation, check out the free graphic organizer below. It helps students work through authentic presentation brainstorming.
Have questions about authentic presentations for project-based learning? Feel free to reach out any time, or add your questions to the comments! I'd also love for you to share in the comments some of your favorite ways for students to present authentically.
Comprehensive Resources for Student-Led Project-Based Learning
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Observe. Question. Explore. Share.
To provide innovative educational resources for educators, parents, and students, that go beyond lecture and worksheets.
Sara Segar, experiential life-science educator and advisor, curriculum writer, and mother of two.