Outdoor learning is not a new concept. People in ancient Rome and Greece were involved in outdoor education. As a matter of fact, about 200 years ago, there were more students learning outdoors, but the Western concept of learning between walls has prevailed. Today, it seems that the trend and demand for flexible outdoor learning environments in an educational setting is coming back.
According to many experts, learning outside the walls of the classroom is a great concept. At the same time, this is a concept that covers a broad area. For example, there are many students that take field trips to learn new things, but in a stricter sense, outdoor learning means taking classes in an educational environment outside.
Numerous scientific studies, surveys, and research have confirmed that different types of individuals learn in different ways. But, according to many of these studies, the positive effects of outside learning are undisputable and they seem to support the growth and education of students regardless of their age. Those who are not sure how exactly outdoor learning in an educational environment helps students should learn more about the benefits of this activity.
- To start with, outdoor learning can be quite helpful when it comes to attendance. It turns out that students are more engaged when things they should learn are applied and take place in real world environments outside of the classroom. This is a great way to improve the chances of accomplishing and achieving excellent results.
- Furthermore, outdoor learning in an educational environment has proven to be useful for the improvement of students’ behavior. Namely, students who have problems with their behavior, like being overactive or being inactive, are more likely to get engaged with this form of learning.
- A brand new environment can make teaching and tutoring of any subject into something more relevant to the students when it is performed in an educational environment. Practitioners of this concept say that they can bring the subject to life and make the learning experience more vivid and lively. Students will definitely get the most from such class because they can’t experience the same things when they are within the four walls of their classroom.
- When teachers, professors or tutors take their students to natural or manmade attractions associated with the subject they are trying to teach, example will help students meet other people who are knowledgeable in that subject matter. This will help them learn firsthand from people who have direct experience with the subjest being taught and perhaps boost their enthusiasm and engagement.
- Certain categories of students that are involved in outdoor learning can also acquire some useful skills when the classes are focused on obtaining work experience. In other words, this is a situation where the students get an opportunity to try things that they have never tried before. In some cases, this practice can help them realize that they like certain environments while in others they’ll learn that this is not a suitable environment for them. The best part is that it won’t take much time before they figure out.
- Outdoor learning helps the subject to be taught in a more interesting way, by changing the typical place of learning. It is amazing how a simple change like this can help students discover some new passion and stimulate interest in students.
- Outdoor learning, especially visits, and fieldwork, can provide positive effects on memory because of the unforgettable new educational setting. Efficient fieldwork and outdoor experience can result in individual growth and social skills improvement. (1)
- Depending on the place where this type of education is performed, students can also experience improvement of their physical, spiritual and mental health. (2) Outdoor learning often takes place in completely natural settings and this kind of change has a great impact on any category of students.
- Besides the broadened horizons, students can also expect great enjoyment, development of personal qualities skills, boosted self-confidence and self-esteem and increased motivation.
Outdoor learning is an excellent opportunity to enhance the learning process. The list of benefits of this specific type of learning is very long, so it’s no surprise why this mode of learning is becoming so popular.
Birchwood Design Group has been engaged in improving the built environment and enhancing the human experience through design on a wide range of educational projects. Our projects maintain an imaginative and rigorous design process that is informed by the sites we work in and guided by the needs of our clients. As part of our practice, we are continually focused on innovation in the design of outdoor educational facilities as it relates to improving the experience of both student and faculty. While we know that some of our ideas are already being developed and some are far-fetched, the continued development and search for innovation are ingrained in our practice
“Let your walks now be a little more adventurous.”
– Henry David Thoreau
- A Review of Research on Outdoor Learning by Mark Rickinson et al. Field Studies Council, 2004.