On behalf of the Scottish Government Learning and Teaching Scotland have just finished a round of regional engagement events with teachers, local authorities and partners looking at outdoor learning is schools. There have been six events in total, all of which have been very successful.
I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to offer workshops and to present at the last two workshops on the topic of the place of New Technology within Outdoor Learning.
Outdoor learning is very close to my heart. These days I am often seen as a bit of a ‘techie’ but I am passionate about the outdoor learning agenda having benefitted from it myself at school. I also continue to work and play in the outdoors whenever I get an opportunity and am still very involved in running youth expeditions (my next trip is to Alaska this summer).
I actually think that the challenges facing teachers to get more children outside are very similar to some of the challenges that we face in trying to get more teachers to use technology in the classroom.
These challenges include:
- Some teachers don’t see the point
- Some teachers are fearful
- Some teachers need professional development
- There are often expenses involved
However the trap that we must not fall into as teachers and leaders is the idea that ICT happens as a one off experience (as is often the case). In the same way that we should not just think that outdoor learning is a one off experience (as is of often the case).
Schools that ‘tick ICT boxes’ by timetabling classes to the computer lab once a week and schools that ‘tick outdoor learning boxes’ by running a one week residential at the end of P6 both need to think about the depth and breath of these experiences for children.
I am not saying that these activities are not important but they are often not very progressive and as I have already mentioned both outdoor learning and ICT should be seen as tools to provide worthwhile learning activities.
Finally, there are some teachers that dismiss the use of technology in the outdoors. These are often the group of people who don’t really understand what we mean by technology. Technology has actually improved the way that we engage with the outdoors and it certainly helps us remember and reflect on our experiences of place. We must remember that technology has included advances in transportation, clothing, photographic equipment, mapping, communication and a whole variety of other things that have contributed to improved outdoor experiences for young people.
Over the next week I am going to write a short series of posts about some of the things that I was talking about during my workshop at the recent outdoor learning conferences. I will all also post the slide that I used at the end of the serise.