Preparing college students for the “real world” has never been more important than it is today. We live in an era where students feel knowledgeable about every subject simply because they can access news and information on their mobile devices at all times. The truth, however, is that few students are prepared for the independent thinking and creative applications needed once they step outside the higher education zone. Authorship learning is here to prepare them.

Simply put, authorship learning allows students to become the educators by having them research, collaborate, and teach to a public audience (whether online or in person). Further than that, it’s a teaching style that forces the student to learn via the process of applying, tinkering, and constructing new avenues. Current learning teaches students to follow, but self-authorship demands that a student trust the internal voice.  This role-reversal is no easy feat, but it allows students to learn, collaborate, and teach themselves on an entirely new level. Instructional Design Specialist Jonan Donaldson is pioneering an intense form of authorship learning, and has turned the tables on traditional teaching. In authorship education, he sees engaged learning that moves from a traditional instructional paradigm to self-discovery and exploration.

Authoring articles and ideas needn’t be difficult; platforms such as Storybird allow students to read, write, share, and inspire others. Learnist takes another angle and creates ways for your students to teach and learn by creating personal lesson boards and more for an international audience. Some students write entries on Wikipedia, while others choose to actually help write online books. Other faculty may choose to lead students through a more stringent methodology. It may seem demanding, but authorship learning makes students research, edit, create, and truly think for themselves. What’s important is that students have an attainable goal of presenting to or writing for an outside audience, not just a familiar classroom of fellow students and a professor.

School music programs use public concerts and recitals to demonstrate mastery, so why shouldn’t standard classes? Rather than sending students off into the work world unarmed, try slowly adding elements of authorship learning into your classroom learning. Your students will be able to problem solve and think for themselves while relishing in already having published material for a genuine audience. Perhaps most importantly, they’ll have learned how to become a leader and teacher—not just a follower.