M-Learning (Thesis Volume 1.2: Background of the Study )

Learning about science is a lifelong process; science is a constant ever-changing subject.  It is one of those few subjects that most people find to be interesting in one aspect or another; whether you are looking to research the latest diet fads, visit a local zoo or museum, or wants to buy the newest technology on the market; science is functional in everyone’s lives.  Individuals rarely engage in science learning in order to become experience in a field or science, or to achieve a certain level of generalized scientific knowledge and skills.  Despite these findings though, the American public has consistently demonstrated a deep and abiding interest in personally relevant science and technology topics, suggesting that many people find science and technology interesting enough to pursue in their free time and that they engage n many kinds of activities that hold the potential for learning about science (Falk, Storksdieck, and Dierking).  In fact, the National Science Board conducted a survey in 2004 where only 14% of those surveyed had not been to a museum, zoo, or library in the previous year (McComas, 2007).  The hands-on or psycho-motor element of learning is a central design element in many informal settings.  At these sites one finds buttons to push, levers to pull, experiments to try, and paths to walk.  There are unusual animals, puzzling questions, interesting equipment, and endless ways to put these objects and experiences together and discover new and meaningful insights.  The opportunities for these tactile experiences to affect the affective domain and result in new learning are vast (McComas, 2007).

The biggest challenge for informal learning centers is to create lesson plans that result in efficient and measurable results.  If a designer builds particular learning goals into an exhibit and the museum visitors fail to grasp the intended lesson, it may be reasonable to suggest that the museum has failed.  If students visiting a science center return to school with new misconceptions or without having tied the experience to the school curriculum, the experience may be deemed unsuccessful.  The learner in these situations does not fail, but designers, tour guides, and teachers may if they do not take responsibility for considering the learning and facilitating knowledge construction (McComas, 2007).

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