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Helping young people to understand their world

Paul Mulholland, Monday 21 May 2007 | Annotate
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A new project, called Personal Inquiry (PI), aims to help young people to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to understand and contribute to their changing world. The project, a collaboration between the Open University and the University of Nottingham, has been awarded nearly £1.2m from the Economic and Social Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. This funding was obtained through an initiative called ‘Technology Enhanced Learning’ which forms part of the national Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP). Over the next three years, researchers will be exploring how to make the best use of new technology to help personalise the way children learn, making it more accessible and more effective. They are exploring a new approach called ‘scripted inquiry learning’, in which pupils investigate a topic with classmates by carrying out explorations in their classrooms, in their homes and outside, guided by the innovative use of technology. The activities will be based around topic themes of relevance to the Key Stage 3 school curriculum (Myself, My Environment, My Community) that engage young learners in investigating themselves, their immediate environment and their wider surroundings. These topics are key elements of the new 21st century science curriculum that requires children to reason about the natural sciences as a complex system and to explore how people relate to the physical world. The project will be led by Professor Eileen Scanlon, who directs the Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET) and Professor Mike Sharples who directs the Learning Sciences Research Institute (LSRI) at the University of Nottingham. Co-investigators at The Open University are Professor Grainne Conole and Dr Ann Jones in the Institute of Educational Technology, Professor Karen Littleton in the Faculty of Education and Language Studies and Dr Paul Mulholland in the Knowledge Media Institute. Other partners include Icknield High School, Luton and the City Discovery Centre and Gulliver’s Eco-Park both based in Milton Keynes.

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