Meaningful Science Learning in Open Learning Environments

Tools for Public Understanding of Science

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Keyword: Science education, Primary schools, Public understanding of science, Informal learning, Science centre, Open learning environment, Motivation, ELearning
Publication year: 2004
Relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
SDG 12 Responsible consumption and productionSDG 4 Quality educationSDG 11 Sustainable cities and communities
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This presentation describes contemporary and historical changes in the role of informal learning related to public awareness of science. It shows by several case examples and case studies how the rapid development of modern information and communication technology has influenced the traditional education system. First science centres were created as a reaction to Sputnik-phenomena, and the growth of the science centres since 1990s has clearly been connected to two major developments in society: the crisis of scientific literacy and the visions for the information society. Therefore, new forms of education are actively being sought. A huge amount of information, especially about modern phenomena, is obtained in a personal way from family, friends, peer groups. Practically all learning at the early years of childhood take place in informal way without the schooling institutes. That makes the informal learning approach important for pre- and primary school. Furthermore, the roles of television, libraries, magazines and newspapers are also essential. Science centres have increased the number of their visitors regularly during the last decade. Recently, informal learning has become a more accepted part of educational science, and there is nowadays considerably more literature and research reports related to informal learning. Science centres were originally applying hands-on –principle, i.e. learning by doing. However, the most successful institutes are nowadays using all kind of interactive methods in their exhibitions. The combination of an exhibition and the Internet forms an excellent example of an open learning environment. The results of the case studies and surveys clearly show that the main factor in informal learning is motivation, which is clearly connected also to the results of cognitive learning. Meaningful content and context are the ways how informal learning creates intrinsic motivation.


Hannu Sakari Salmi

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