Turning zoos into smart learning ecosystems

Terje Väljataga, Kadri Mettis
pp. 114 – 133, download


Zoos as comprehensive systems for sustainable use of the cultural and nature heritage and for environmental education have the foundation of a smart entity and the great potential to be turned into smart learning ecosystems. What the zoos require is the leveraging of technological solutions to make them smart. The paper presents an attempt to design and develop a web-based application for the zoos in the Central Baltic region to support zoo visitors’ engagement in learning and to provide smart learning experiences through creating and playing games in the zoos with personal mobile devices. To understand the nature and level of “smartness” of the application, a study with students was carried out. In particular, the study aimed at exploring the students’ behavioral patterns with their mobile devices while interacting with the application. The results of the study demonstrated that aiming to transform the zoos into smart learning ecosystems through the technological solution requires re-conceptualization of “smart” and identification of the most adequate factors that determine the smartness of a zoo to avoid techno-deterministic learning experiences. 

Keywords:  smart learning environments, smart learning, game-based learning, mobile learning

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