06 SES 06, Informal Learning in Different Environments
Citizen science is a collaborative research practice where members of the public (non-professional scientists) collaborate with professional scientists to conduct scientific research (Wiggins & Crwoston, 2011). Citizen cyberscience is a form of research collaboration that engages volunteers in contributing online to empirical scientific projects. Millions of volunteers participate around the world, but little is known about the learning outcomes and learning processes stimulated by citizen cyberscience projects. While the contribution of volunteers to scientific data collection and analysis has been well documented, there is still limited research on participation in citizen science projects and how it may support learning. However, this topic is of increasing importance, as European public policies take a closer look at the potential of citizen science for scientific education and social innovation in technological democracies.
This paper will report our findings from the Citizen Cyberlab (CCL) European research project. CCL is a collaboration between 7 European research institutions (CERN, Geneva; UNO, Geneva; University of Geneva; UPD, Paris; UCL, London; Imperial College, London; TMC, London), which has been running in the last three years. Overall, the CCL research project aims to produce a new understanding of learning behaviours and creative outputs, anchored in real-world examples of citizen cyberscience. In this paper, we focus specifically on learning outcomes and learning processes. Until now, citizen science research on learning addressed narrow and well-defined topics, e.g. attitudes towards science or learning gains in specific topic-related knowledge. We progress beyond the state-of the-art by addressing several interesting new questions, firstly by evaluating and studying the experience of CCL pilot project volunteers, secondly by looking at participants’ perceived experiences in the larger online Citizen Science community.
This research has implications for lifelong Science Education and learning within an Open Science framework.
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