If you read any of my documents or keep up with recent literature in education, you'll see the word authentic quite a bit. Authentic learning is not merely a buzzword--it's an approach to designing learning environments that helps students connect to what you want them to get from your course or program. Authentic does not mean practical, or vocational, or anything like that. Authentic means that the course goals, content, activities, and assessments reflect what real experts would actually do in that field. It means that you design experiences that are what happens in the real world. Don't make them
complete exercises 1-50 for homework. Don't make them memorize a bunch of terms because they might encounter them in a more advanced course. Immerse them in learning experiences that reflect what happens in your field. What do you do as an expert? Consult with businesses on their marketing strategy? Pursue research in biological or chemical issues? Then that's what they should be doing in your class. Forget the multiple choice exams and boring lectures--design problems to solve and issues to debate and help them learn how to find information and collaborate to determine possible solutions. You get the idea...oh yeah, make sure your graded assessments are based on these activities. Don't do real stuff and then give them a standard final exam. Ground your course in the real world and your students will amaze you at how they connect and dig into it.