EDUCATION AND TECHNOLOGY: LEARNING BY HANDS-ON LABORATORY EXPERIENCES
This paper aims at analyzing the arrangement of educational laboratories based on the use of advanced tools, involving students from grammar school to University. In particular, the objective of these hands-on laboratories has been the learning of scientific and literature topics starting from the manipulation of contents, real or virtual ones. Both acceptation of technology and subject understanding have been tested.
Among the realized laboratories, we introduce those devoted to a Virtual Theatre, Robotics, and Chaos; regarding the latter, its purpose has been the familiarization of high school students with the theory of complexity related concepts. Firstly, a course for teachers has been carried out: questionnaires have been administrated in order to deeply understand their degree of computer literacy, expectations, and potential problems. Then, different formative levels have been arranged, and finally didactic packages to propose to particular class groups have been studied. In a second phase, students have been motivated to construct Chua’s circuit, as well as virtually manipulate attractors and music patterns by a software application. In this pilot study, 50 teachers and 60 students have been involved.
Results have showed that manipulation encourages learners to think, formulate hypotheses and test their hypothesis through experiments. Hence, results of all laboratories have shown that participative and Edutainment (education associated to entertainment) experiences can remarkably enhance students’ learning efficiency. Moreover, it has been demonstrated that this kind of hands-on activities can be very important in school context not only for subjects like Physics and Science, usually linked to laboratory practice, but also for Literature and Philosophy. In fact, specific tools can be ad-hoc-built, as for example Virtual Theatre software.