In OPEDUCA 'Real Life Learning' indicates the learning process outside schools and other institutions, not depending on textbooks or other materials. It's about the learning process that takes place in today's society as a natural learning environment.
Real-life learning defines almost every activity in OPEDUCA, starting with thematic learning in Flight for Knowledge, over BusinessClass, the Events, OPEDUCA Global and the numerous encounters pupils and students have in their peer community as well as in the region and beyond.
Following an important basic principle in OPEDUCA, every real-life learning experience is not a 'stand-alone' activity but an integral part of the whole approach and effect.
In Touch with Reality
In OPEDUCA Real Life Learning is not so much about providing means and access to students, as well as enabling them to go out and see, observe, discover, provide, collect and study for themselves. Obviously, the OPEDUCA Concept builds strongly on the real, is phenomenological as we see thoughts, feelings, emotions, ideas and behaviors arise because of our contact with the world. Our existence is a network of relations, our being not locked up inside but spread throughout worldly interactions in which our existence continually unfolds (Fisher, 2002). Thereto each OPEDUCA instrument entangles the learning with experiences grounded in the real, meeting the relevance of context by means of situated learning (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989).
Notwithstanding the relevance of the subjects thought at school, these remain pocketed in their own domains and can only be made alive by the best of teachers that have the ability to place what they teach in the relevant context of the real. As real life is a fantastic mixture of all kinds of information, knowledge, circumstances and practices, it is essential for the student to get in touch with the world outside school but also beyond their relatively closed social sphere.
Real-life learning goes far beyond attempts to have a school resemble real life; the authenticity and meaningfulness of the real with its pallet of experiences, less defined problems and multiple approaches and solutions cannot be exhibited in either material or virtual confinements. Facilitating students to not merely learn about but be in touch with phenomena and authentic problems increases sensemaking, makes relevance be felt and usefulness valued, the concept of meaning underpinned from various sides.
Amongst others the learning with(in) industry and the thematic spaces in school dedicated to Flight for Knowledge themes, which provide for context and Partners in Education going in and out, should be understood as a part of the real inside a school, being more than a classroom with windows to the world.
Although the internet seems to have come as a relief to many, through our lens it is also often an impoverishment. While it grants access to data and images of life, it is not the same for it remains an image and through its time-consuming nature keeps students away from the real world even more. That many children today, all over the world, lack presence to the world, the real around them, is perhaps one of the most prominent challenges to address.
Real Life Learning comes to effect in amongst others 'Flight for Knowledge' (on the OPEDUCA instruments), building on the conviction a student first has to relate new observations to an existing body of information, the latter seen as qualitative footholds to pin the newly observed to, anchor it (Ausubel & Fitzgerald, 1961; Novak, 1998). A process which is more effective when the new set of data and information is clear and relatable, also in this sense meaningful. We could observe that extensive experience with objects and surroundings offers a rich base for the development and application of verbal and non-verbal capacity, prerequisites for further cognitive development (J. Clark & Paivio, 1991).
Obviously, what is referred to as 'Community Based Learning' was one of the original pillars when thoughts that make up the OPEDUCA Concept first unfolded. In OPEDUCA students' learning process is per definition embedded in their region and the communities they are part of. They explore, inquire and draw on sources within their reach in their own habitat. A learning process going beyond societal projects in the realm of care-taking or alike: Community Based Learning in OPEDUCA is about seeking and using all possible sources of knowledge and experience society offers. Thereto pupils and students actively participate in the community, their activities however driven by their learning and based on intrinsic motivation.