DESIGNING LEARNING ACTIVITIES FOR NON-FORMAL INFORMATICS EDUCATION
Formal learning is lot about the must and less about the want. But every child has the right to pursue activities on voluntary basis. Leisure is the right time for those voluntary educational activities. Our aim is to show how leisure activities can be implemented in an informatics education. The main purpose of this study is to describe a set of well-designed learning activities that were found suitable for non-formal learning environments, children as summer camps. We designed five different activities: Educational robotics (Lego robots, building & programming), Mobile technology (GPS drawing, Wherigo games), 3D Photos (3D illusion, 3D glasses), Information encoding and encryption (computer codes, simple ciphers) and Multimedia presentations (creative processing of digital data). When designing the learning activities for this ICT-oriented summer camp, more aspects were taken into account: the learning activities varied as for their contents, educational goals of the learning activities, various teaching/learning methods and various aids. All the learning activities used within this summer camp could be implemented also within the environment of formal institutions such as primary and secondary schools (e. g. in school clubs and study groups, during school trips or sports days, even within a well-designed scenario in regular lessons). The suggested learning activities were implemented within a daily summer camp for children. There were 23 children aged 8-14 participating during the whole week. The lecturers (authors of the paper) were responsible for all the learning activities, several other volunteers (animators) took care of children during the rest of the day. The quality of suggested learning activities from the methodical point of view is discussed. In school informatics, the goal is to facilitate pupils a transformation from an intuitive to a fully qualified user of digital technology. The intuitive using of digital technology is based on experience. But the qualified using comes from deeper understanding of underlying concepts. The problem of formalism in schools has been pointed out many times by educational researchers as well as practitioners. Pupils should construct their knowledge themselves through learning by doing activities and personal engagement. Such experience is likely to motivate pupils for further learning and helps them to accommodate new knowledge effectively. In order to meet the requirements quickly, they tend to provide pupils with new knowledge directly, by delivering explanations or solutions in a ready-made form. On the contrary, within the non-formal education, measurable performances of the involved children are not important. The emphasis is put on the affective side of the activities and the intrinsic motivation. Summer camps are ideal for non-formal education as they provide a plenty of time for both, learning and relaxing. The atmosphere in such camps was friendly, so children do not feel any pressure and are naturally more willing to experiment, explore, collaborate and discuss. For non-formal contexts, we find the outdoor activities or combined activities based on collaboration and creativity especially appropriate as they enable to incorporate real-world problems, positive emotions and modern technology tools into the learning process rather easily and in a meaningful way.