Outside Learning Environments

Outdoor Learning Space

Nothing engages the mind like education outdoors. Historically, the outdoors has always been a primary education location, however one the University Utrecht lacks. To combat this, Future Learning Spaces is conceptualizing an Outdoor Learning Space. The project needs to be developed further before further details can be shared.

Buitenactiviteit Campusplein University College
Join us outside! Outside Learning Environments

Co-Creation Community

The Co-Creation Community Learning Spaces, part of University Utrecht, organized a workshop about (learning) activities outside. This Co-Creation Community consists of about 65 lecturers, employees and students who discuss, on a monthly basis, a specific theme in the context of Future Learning Spaces. They use their respective perspectives to find common ground in ideas and solutions for new ways of education.

This proactive discussion about outside learning environment took place under the cover of the trees, located on the campus square of University College Utrecht.


In a so called 'braindump', the participants formulated as many reasons for outside education as they could on post-it. These reasons were then compiled in the followingt overarching themes that encompass the main reasons of this kind of education:  

  • Good for your health, both physical as mental (fresh air, movement, activating, resilience)
  • Stimulates creativity, inspires and generates new ideas
  • Flexibility, variety, a change of scene
  • Integration of education in the environment, contact with the environment/other people (approach new people)
  • Stimulates conversation, team building
  • More room for certain working methods
  • Fun, relaxing
  • No hierarchy between lecturer and student (because of static education formation, informal
  • Nature works calming
  • Forced to use analog working methods, without electronics
  • Inclusive
  • Counteracts shortage of education spaces

Putting it into practise 

The next assignment was focused on actually implementing a learning activity outside, taking all these positive reasons for outside education. For this exercise, the participants started of by discussing which spefici event they could host in an outside environment this year. In pairs they discussed what would be the minimal requirements to make it happen that they could organize this themselves. The ideas were shared with each other and taken a step further by shared feedback. Some examples of this are:

Buitenhuis tuin
Outdoor Learning Botanical Gardens
  • Walking counselling in a nature reserve
  • Historic tour across the city about the remnants of the past of slavery
  • Teambuildingsactivity
  • Painting clinic in the Botanical Gardens
  • Fieldwork behaviour for the Psychology program
  • Sharing experiences for workshop for teaching outside

During this meeting, it became clear that the minimum requirements need to create these learning activities were extremely limited. A roof, which provides cover during rain or a bright sun, making sure that all planned activities can go through was the only 'must' given by some participants. This feedback will be analyzed and used in the Future Learning Spaces project to research the possibilities of realizing outside learning.