What is is?
Outdoor learning is a broad term used to define learning outside the classroom from pre-schools to university level. There are many pedagogical frameworks that are situated in this space such as: place-based education and experiential learning. Outdoor learning is included in the Australian National Curriculum, outdoor education is one aspect of this area.
Outdoor Education engages participants in practical and active learning experiences, typically in natural settings, for benefits to the person, community and nature. It exists in many formats such as: schools, camps and in expedition programs. High schools and the upper primary school years are generally where these programs are focused as a component of the Personal Development, Health and PE (PDHPE) Syllabus documents.
Emerging trends in outdoor learning begin during early childhood with nature play, bush kinder and beach kinders. In the primary school years, learning outside the classroom is largely curriculum focused and facilitated by classroom teachers.
What are the benefits?
Outdoor education and outdoor learning positively impact engagement on curriculum learning tasks, academic performance and achievement of learning goals. It provides many benefits including the development of:
· Responsibility, risk taking and resilience
· Active healthy lifestyles
· Overall well-being
· Social and social connections
· Leadership skills
· Connection to nature
Outdoors NSW & ACT’s Role
At Outdoors NSW we work with early childhood educators, primary and high school teachers, TAFE instructors and university lecturers to ensure best practice in outdoor education and outdoor learning. We are continually advocating for the inclusion of learning outside the classroom to all levels of government, and within schools. Outdoors NSW & ACT leads discussions with schools to ensure current training at TAFE and university matches the needs within schools. We provide invaluable resources and practical support for members in this area as leaders of the Australian Adventure Activity Standard (AAS) in NSW & the ACT.
Outdoors NSW has members from many aspects of outdoor educators, those working for providers, outdoor education teachers and lecturers, generalist teachers and nature play facilitators. This is a broad area encompassing many variants all working towards a common goal of educating outside. Outdoors NSW & ACT aims to coordinate networks and forums for the sub-groups of outdoor education.
Outdoor Education Australia
Outdoors NSW & ACT is a member of Outdoor Education Australia, the peak body who facilitate support at a national level. They have resources and updates for practitioners on their website and on their Facebook page.