Inderscience Publishers

Science and technology centres – rich resources for free-choice learning in a knowledge-based society

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Societies worldwide are in the midst of great change, directly tied to the shifting of world economies from ones that are industrially based to information and knowledge based. The learning strategy of choice for many people will be free-choice learning - self-directed, voluntary and guided by individual learners' needs and interests. This transformation represents a major reason why science and technology centres are undergoing unprecedented popularity. These centres are responding to this interest and the needs of freechoice learners by serving as rich resources for such learning. One key to their success in communicating complex science and technology concepts is through the use of familiar physical and social environments such as exhibitions to facilitate personal connections between the complex ideas and visitors' everyday lives. This article supports this view by outlining the Contextual Model of Learning and presenting findings from two specific exhibition projects in two science centres.

Keywords: learning, museums, science and technology centres, Contextual Model of Learning, free-choice learning, learning society

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