Let’s go outside! Outdoor learning environments

During the Strengthen-Your-Education-Week of the CAT, the SIG Co-Creation Community Learning Spaces provided a workshop on outdoor (educational) activities. A group of teachers, students and staff participated actively under the trees on the campus square of the International Campus.

In a 'brain dump', participants first wrote down as many reasons as possible for outdoor education on post-its. Then the participants clustered these reasons into overarching themes:

  • Good for your health, both physically and mentally (fresh air, exercise, activating, resilience)
  • Stimulates creativity, inspires, provides new ideas
  • Flexibility, variation, something different
  • Integration of education into the environment, contact with the environment/others (addressing people)
  • Stimulates conversation, team building
  • More room for certain work forms
  • Fun, relaxing
  • No hierarchy between teacher and students (because of fixed arrangement of space), informal
  • Forced to use analogue work forms, without AV
  • Inclusive
  • Prevents shortage of teaching spaces

The next task was to make the step from all these positive reasons to actually teaching (or another activity) outside. To do this, participants first thought about the specific occasion they would like to organise outdoors in the coming year. Then, in pairs, they discussed the minimum requirements and what they could organise themselves to achieve this. The results were shared and developed even further through feedback. Some examples that were mentioned are:

  • Counselling during a walk through a nature reserve
  • History tour through the city about remnants of slavery past
  • Team building activity
  • Guided tour on the USP
  • Fieldwork behaviour for Psychology course
  • Sharing the experience of outdoor workshop for teachers

During this meeting, it became clear that the minimum equipment requested for outdoor education was very limited. A roof, so that a planned meeting can take place even if it rains, was the only thing some participants indicated as a 'must'. Future Learning Spaces will use this input to investigate what possibilities there are for this.