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From Looking Environment to Learning Environment: The Networked Aquarium of the 21st Century

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To live up to their goals of education and conservation, as well as to richen the visitor experience, aquariums in the 21st century must become more effective at promoting informal, inquiry-based learning within and surrounding their exhibits. We examine a number of ways of using the technology of networking to further those goals. The methods discussed fall into six broad categories of use: orientation, delivering information on demand, tailoring the experience to the individual, viewing and observing the simulated aquarium habitat, connecting simulated habitats to their wild counterparts, and extending the experience beyond the aquarium visit. Within this context, we also examine the role of graphical and robotic simulations in the aquarium. The networked aquarium concept, applied within the context of a rich variety of live exhibits and activities, has the potential to enhance visitors' primary experiences in the aquarium by making connections among successive exhibit experiences, and supporting connections between the aquarium experience and visitors' further life experiences. By enhancing such linkages, a network should foster its users' ability to build fundamental ideas in and around the aquarium setting and more easily apply them in other circumstances; the hallmark of real learning. It further allows the aquarium to attract and serve its visitors more effectively.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2001

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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