For Outdoor Educators and Leaders
3 P's of Outdoor Education (Peter Martin)
Courtesy of Outdoors Victoria
Professor Peter Martin opened the Education Outdoors Conference 2018 with his key speech, presented in video form, as he was unable to attend in person. The presentation was titled the ‘3 P’s of Outdoor Education‘ and addressed the theme of ‘Your Future in the Outdoors’ in a thoughtful and thought-provoking way. The video footage of Peter was followed by a panel discussion selected by Peter, to open up and carry on the conversation. The panel comprised of a group of outdoor leaders: Sandy Allen- Craig (Australian Catholic University), Heather Grenon (Federation University), Anthony Hall (Halls Outdoor Education), & Clay Tyrell (Freelancer).
Xperiential Education is a podcast which explores the different techniques of learning through doing. We take a look outside the classroom and interview some amazing experiential educators to find the most innovative ideas which are helping to shape people’s lives and prepare them for an uncertain future in a rapidly changing world.
However, as you’ll see throughout the interviews the impact that experiential education can have on students is immense and this translates back in the classroom to help create life-long learning opportunities and build a resilience that’s needed to be able to deal with endless change that life is now bringing.
Institute for Outdoor Learning (UK)
The Institute for Outdoor Learning is the professional body for organisations and individuals who use the outdoors to make a difference for others. We are driven by a vision of Outdoor Learning as a highly valued form of development, education and employment in UK society.
The English Outdoor Council is an umbrella body for organisations involved in the provision of outdoor education, recreation and development training. Its work involves:
- lobbying for opportunities for outdoor learning for all young people, including those who could not afford to experience these without financial support
- promoting the benefits of progressive outdoor experiences
arguing for a balanced view of risks and benefits and an adventurous approach to life
- encouraging high quality, sustainable provision, with proportionate safety assurance
maintaining a future focus on behalf of the outdoor sector
Outdoor Education Australia (OEA) facilitates communication between state and territory outdoor education associations about the practice and delivery of outdoor education; advocates for outdoor education across primary, secondary and tertiary education; and provides policy advice.
The Outdoor Educators Association of Queensland (OEAQ) was established in 1981 to represent the interests of individuals and organisations involved in Outdoor Education and to encourage and lead the development of professional practice in Outdoor Education in Queensland.
Outdoor Education Research & Evaluation Centre
On-line knowledge about outdoor education
a project in natural living & transformation
The Outdoor Leader Online is based on the content of the Bushwalking and Ski Touring Leadership Manual, last published by the Bushwalking and Mountaincraft Training Advisory Board (BMTAB) in Victoria in 2000. The content of this Manual was the basis of the excellent outdoor leadership training courses run by the BMTAB. Following the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009, a Victorian Outdoor Industry Taskforce attracted funding to improve risk management and community confidence in outdoor activity providers. The project to make this resource available online was a component of that endeavour.
We attract the best and most innovative providers of camps, excursions/incursions, accommodation, educational activities, travel operators and venues because we are the first stop for teachers and camp coordinators just like you!
Teaching / Instructing / Facilitating Resources
Sport oriented but useful reminders for when working outdoors with children.
Click image to download infographic!
Britain has a long tradition of engaging young people in outdoor learning, and the positive impact that this can have on a young person’s development is widely acknowledged.
This second and revised edition has been produced in response to wider societal
recognition of the value of the outdoors in the development of children and
young people, and the increasing evidence and support that underpins this
The guide is intended to:
- clearly outline the benefits and outcomes of high quality outdoor learning
- recognise and evaluate high quality outdoor learning
- focus on the delivery of high quality outdoor learning – what it looks like and how to achieve it
Want to improve your program leadership skills?
Looking for practical facilitation ideas?
Every two weeks Playmeo releases a new, 2-3 minute video which focuses on the art and science of group facilitation skills, particularly in the context of interactive group games & activities. Ideal for beginners who don’t know where to start, and experienced practitioners who are looking to be inspired with new ideas.
Each Facilitator Tips episode is accompanied by useful links, bonus resources and a video transcript. And best of all – they’re FREE.
Few ideas have generated as much intrigue among business owners, managers, and HR professionals as team building has in recent years. While it may sound like an excuse to goof off at work, team building activities and exercises are designed to improve employee relationships, increase productivity, and develop a unified, positive company culture. Read More
Source: The Escape Game
Dr Simon Beames, senior lecturer in Outdoor Learning at Moray House School of Education, provides a research-based overview of what comprises ‘experiential learning’…
In the field of outdoor learning it is not uncommon to hear people wax lyrical about how ‘experiential’ the content of a given course is or was. The trouble is that most folk have their own ideas of what a course that has experiential elements comprises. If we strive to make our programmes more experiential, we need to have a precise and shared definition of what experiential education is. Here are three popular definitions, in varied lengths!
- Short: Learning by doing combined with reflection (Priest & Gass, 2017, p. 45).
- Medium: Challenge and experience followed by reflection leading to learning and growth (Association for Experiential Education, n.d.).
- Long: …a philosophy that informs many methodologies in which educators purposefully engage with learners in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills, clarify values, and develop people’s capacity to contribute to their communities (Association for Experiential Education, n.d.).
University of Edinburgh
by Laura Collins, Hannah Sanders & Enya Schaefer
The three of us got together to create an outdoor cookbook that can be used by both outdoor
professionals and outdoor education students alike. We wanted to make it an easy to use
resource for whenever inspiration or information is needed for both outdoor expeditions and base-camping trips. We also wanted to give options for people who have a variety of dietary requirements.
25 Inspirational Quotes for Teachers
AAAState of Play
What We Do
We create units of work and learning activities that can be downloaded from the Cool Australia website and taken straight into the classroom. The learning activities are year level specific, from Early Learning to Year 12. All are linked to Australian Curriculum standards and the Early Years Learning Framework outcomes.
We provide an online Digital Library to support learning and teaching. It contains videos, images, infographics, research and news articles.
We deliver online professional development in the form of online courses and webinars to further support educators. Sometimes we provide keynote addresses to audiences across the country.
We coordinate Enviroweek – a year of action, a week of celebration.
Books, DVD’s and more …
Encompass Outdoors provides a huge range of products to support your outdoor education needs.
Explore Roger Greenaway’s Active Reviewing Guide
Learn how to facilitate learning from experience, how to make debriefing more dynamic and how to engage everyone in meaningful reflection.
“A goldmine for lots (and lots) of people” – teachers, trainers, consultants, managers and anyone who facilitates learning.
playmeo is the world’s largest online database of group games & activities specifically designed to equip teachers, corporate trainers, camp leaders, youth workers, outdoor educators and many others with outrageously fun and interactive group activities.
Our library features 100s of activities such as awesome ice-breakers to strengthen new (and old) relationships, simple energizers to wake up a class of sleepy students, innovative problem-solving and teamwork exercises, and fun large group activities.
A creative resource for building teams
We transform the way people communicate, solve problems, make decisions, and achieve their goals. Like learning how to ride a bike with training wheels, our clients learn ways to grow and balance for the long ride. We are here to support you on the many paths you will encounter by providing hands-on learning and the tools you need to be successful.
Active Play Resources – even rubber chickens!
HART Sport is a unique catalogue retailer recognised for choice, value and convenience. We provide all types of sporting, active play and recreational equipment as well as teamwear. We manufacture many products in our own factory in Brisbane. Our customers include early childhood facilities as well as elite national and international sporting teams and everyone in between! HART Sport has over 4000 products and we are continually adding to our range. Our range of fitness and training aids is recognised throughout the world.
Tips and Tricks
It is no surprise that we become better at those things we practice in our lives. For the adventure-based facilitator, this means that we can improve our facilitation skills, our reviewing skills, and our overall value as an educator and trainer, by practicing and growing in our craft. If you are new to this field, or just want to improve your facilitation skills, Effective Debriefing Tools and Techniques has a few suggestions on how you can reach the next level.
By Michelle Cummings, Training Wheels
The Art of Giving Effective Directions
The human brain can only hold so much information before it starts to disconnect or shut down. In general, people can remember 3-4 things at a time before they start to miss details. When giving instructions to a group, it’s important keep this in mind to help set you and your participants up for success. Here are a few tips on giving effective directions:
- Use the phrase ‘In a minute but not yet’ to spark visualization. This phrase allows participants to visualize what is expected of them in their head before the act. When participants hear ‘In a minute’, they begin picturing themselves actually doing it. The ‘but not yet’ part lets them know that they need to keep listening before they act-and they actually do! The ‘In a minute’ phrase is a memory device that causes participants to create a moving picture in their mind. It’s also predictive. They take it as fact that they’ll indeed be able to do everything you ask them–without your help.
- Make your directions a story. Stories are powerful and can make mundane or complicated directions come to life, especially if there are a lot of them. Participants will pay closer attention if you make your directions sound like a story progressing from beginning to end.
- Act out your directions. Role modeling what you want participants to do is an extremely effective way of giving directions. Use your body and facial expressions to dramatize the steps you want your participants to take. It provides additional support for their visualization and helps them to better picture themselves completing the tasks you place before them.
- Put responsibility on their shoulders. Before you begin your direction, inform the participants that you will only state the rules once, and they will have to rely on Team Memory if they have any questions. This will make them ‘lean into’ your directions, and listen at a different level.
101 Ways to Enhance a Debrief
Creating a valuable debrief for your learners is sort of like cooking a meal. Like any Chef you will start your career making a lot of “Cuppa-soup”…? because you can only figure out how to add water, and stir. But with time, experience, and awareness you will make meals into a dining experiences. To help you fast track your skills munch on some of these 101 ways to enhance your debrief:
- Get the group in a circle sitting knee to knee or standing shoulder to shoulder;
- Don’t leave any unfinished business, terminate all issues appropriately for every learner;
- Ensure that you maintain eye contact with whomever is speaking;
- Keep aware of others in the circle and non-verbally acknowledge when its their turn to speak or are becoming distracted;
- Maintain a clear structure or “rules” to your debrief a good tool is the Full Value Contract (ie speaker in charge, respecting others and yourself, etc.)
- Don’t be surprised by peoples resistance to a debrief, it’s often not how learners are used to learning and takes them some getting used to;
- Treat what people have to say with respect;
- Encourage those who are not participating to speak by asking them direct, fair, and inclusive questions;
- Learn from each facilitation session by being evaluated by peers, learners, and yourself;
- Sit across the circle from your co-facilitator and establish non-verbal cues to communicate with them while you’re co-facilitating (one simple one I have used is leaning forward if I would like to follow a response with a new question direction, and pointing my finger in the air if I have an immediate question);
- Take discrete notes of the activity the debrief and refer to them when asking direct questions;
- One structured format that works is Gestalt which has a questioning format of, “What, So What, and Now What”;
- Sometimes it’s best to “let the mountain speak for itself”;
- Be creative and humorous (at appropriate times);
- Keep notes on each learner so you can have them reflect on things that they have already learned or goals they have already set;
- Take your time, reflect on the learning, make sure you have a solid awareness amongst the group about what just happened so they can effectively and efficiently transfer the learning;
- Ask the tough questions really challenge your learners;
- Probe, probe, probe for the deeper meaning within the answer;
- Read more literature on facilitating a debrief, understand and apply the theory;
- Challenge what your learners have said in a developmentally appropriate manner that challenges them to develop their thoughts into meaningful understandings;
- Pick a key word that a learner has used and when they have finished their response simply say the word in an inquisitive manner (ie “Respect or Pressure”?);
- Utilise solution oriented debriefing techniques by asking learners questions about the experiences successes, how learners achieved them, and how the success can be replicated both directly and indirectly;
- Support your learners responses by nodding and being legitimately interested in what they are saying;
- Use organisers like coloured beads or items from nature to support learnings;
- Speak with learners outside of the debrief and inquire about how they are, what they’ve learned or how you are doing;
- Return to the same location to conduct your debrief as much as possible;
- Use non-verbal learnings, like painting, poetry or sculpture to support the verbal debrief;
- Know your audience and speak in a manner in which they will understand, respect, and support you for using;
- Don’t swear, it’s a little thing but a nice thing;
- Watch other people facilitate a debrief and borrow what you like;
- Be energised about the learning session (when you’re into it, so to will others get into it);
- Integrating food into the debrief can be effective as it releases a pleasure chemical in learner’s minds (assuming they like what you serve ’em.)
- While on the subject of food, snacks or meals are good after intense debriefs it seems to help relax and re-energise the learners;
- Practice your speaking techniques in front of groups of people, join the toastmasters or simply be more active in conversations with strangers while waiting for the bus or having a coffee alone;
- Write and plan questions that may be helpful during the debrief prior to your session;
- Take yourself only so seriously, remember to laugh;
- Attend conferences and go to sessions on facilitation;
- Have learners use techniques that involve Creative Visualisation, (ie Positive Affirmations, Treasure Mapping, etc. A good resource is by Shaki Gawain called “Creative Visualisation”);
- Let learners stay connected with the event during the debrief by letting maintain contact with elements of the activity (ie rope, mouse trap, soft toy, etc.);
- Conduct a debrief with your learners blindfolded;
- Try something new when you debrief, like number 26!;
- Define and plan your outcomes beforehand as recreational, educational, developmental or therapeutic and structure the debrief accordingly;
- Practice your questioning techniques on people you meet, friends, family, flatmate, etc. – it will help you hone your skills;
- Set goals for yourself and your debriefing ability;
- Take the time to pet a friendly dog or cat on the street (OK maybe it won’t help your facilitation skills but dogs and cats are nice things);
- Read or experience things that are appropriate to the learning sessions that you provide like research studies on drug abuse, leadership, whatever;
- Speak clearly when you ask questions and provide clarification and connections with the use of examples from the experience and real life;
- Create a journal for your learners that speaks to the expected outcomes from each experience;
- Take photos and collect non private writings during the sessions and send them to your learners post experience as a yearbook or family album;
- Limit external noise from your debrief by locating away from major traffic areas, loud machinery, other groups, etc., but as close as possible to the activity site;
- Make sure your pants zipper is closed… its always good to remind yourself of that!;
- Keep an open and inviting posture to your learners by not crossing your arms, legs, or adverse facial expressions, etc.;
- Carry a water bottle and drink from it;
- Try out the Socratic Method of debriefing (a great explanation of that can be found on page 152-153 in Effective Leadership in Adventure Programming, by Priest and Gass)
- Teach others how to create more effective debriefs by evaluating each other;
- Ensure that your location has good ventilation;
- Make sure that there is adequate lighting for the debrief, lighting can create mood so use things like candles, campfires, lanterns, etc;
- Send you learners a letter that will help them to dress appropriately, to ensure their comfort during the activity and debrief session (ie warm jumper on a cold day);
- Get enough rest prior to your session it helps you become a more effective facilitator of learning, by helping you energetically think on your feet;
- Know where to refer people for more specialised information or support as you might not necessarily be the most qualified person to continue with a debrief, simply know your limitations, qualifications and external resources;
- Co-facilitate with professionals (ie counsellors, doctors, etc.) especially when there is the potentiality for psychological first aid to be administered;
- Read, understand and commit to being an ethical experiential educator, a good resource for this s Ethics in Experiential Learning by J. Hunt;
- Become aware of peoples non verbal reactions to dialogue, they will speak volumes to an experiential educator who is aware;
- Respect yourself by knowing your limitations;
- Know the organisations policies and procedures that you are working for and how they effect your role as facilitator;
- Know your employers or your own ability to insure any legal ramifications that may result from allegations and outcomes of your debrief;
- Create opportunities for your learners to continue to learn from the experience even post debrief (ie utilise isomorphic connections during the debrief);
- In all your dealings with your learners ensure that you create a feeling of trust and respect towards you;
- Let people talk, don’t tell them they’re wrong, just keep the dialogue running until you get the learning piece that you want to probe;
- Role model the positive behaviours outside of your group that you desire from them;
- Eat chocolate fish;
- Design and use facilities that are learner focused – their comfort is more important than your own (ie with children have lowered windows and light switches);
- Celebrate successful debriefs by sharing effective tools with them;
- Finish your debrief as timely as possible, I read once that debriefing was like cheese – too much processing makes Chesdale so be cognisant of “over” and “under processing”;
- With some high functioning groups you will find that after awhile they will begin to facilitate their own dialogue, stay interested and help shape the debrief to match your planned learning outcomes;
- Sometimes it helps at the end of a session to summarise and clarify what was said and learned through the debrief, this can be done by you, one of the learners, or the entire group collectively;
- Be aware of your voice tone, it effects the learners energy;
- Use peoples names whenever you can;
- When outside debrief in shaded areas as the sun can draw energy and be tough on the eyes of some learners;
- When you’re outside make sure that you are looking into the sun and not your learners;
- Break group into solos, dyads, small and large groups for reflection on learning;
- Jot down notes while learners are talking through a debrief to remember important points and structure your questioning;
- Take off your sunglasses because, “the eyes are the window to the soul”;
- Keep groups to a maximum of 15 learners whenever possible;
- Send learners a letter post program thanking them and support them on their personal pursuits of learning;
- Be aware of teachable moments and utilise them to their maximum potential for learning by stopping and investigating the learning immediately upon the moments presentation;
- Evaluate your program against the objectives you set for the session, do this individually as well as invite your learners and colleagues to do the same;
- Hold a reunion with program learners;
- As a thumbnail guide, schedule your dialoguing sessions to be as long as your doing sessions – but remember don’t “over” or “under process” the experience;
- Know where your contracting agent, professional association and group’s position is on confidentiality and adhere to these standards- some groups require you to sign off on a confidentiality clause in your contract;
- Go camping in your free time…. just ’cause it’s fun!;
- If you don’t have time for the debrief post experience, provide the group with a brief summary and make time to debrief later, inform the group of this;
- Create an atmosphere that encourages learners to contribute questions to the dialogue as well as responses to your questions;
- Choose to engage in regular dialogues with your learners at established times and locations (ie campfires, after meals, etc.);
- Gain quick group consensus using scales of 0 to 10, thumbs up or down, etc.;
- Teach learners to perform relaxation exercises to centre themselves prior to a debrief (ie have the group breath in their nose for 4 seconds, hold their breath for 7 seconds, and push the air out with the tip of their lounge pressed against their back of their front teeth for 8 seconds);
- Present an open ended statement that learners can complete like, “Right now I am feeling….”. or “My parents are…..”;
- Break into dyads and have learners paraphrase and report their partner’s responses to questions you provide (this is great when you are short on time);
- Have learners write down their responses prior to speaking, it helps to collect their thoughts and reduce anxiety about speaking;
- Have FUN.
These Sounds from Nature can have a soothing effect on your brain and thereby reduce your fight or flight response. They can also start your rest and digest autonomic nervous system and help you return to your default relaxed state after a stressful event.
People who reside in urban areas are more prone to emotional distress, depression, and anxiety compared to people who dwell in rural areas. If you reside in a city, look for parks and green areas where you can experience the soothing effect of nature and listen to the sounds of the natural environment that will calm you.
Source: Sounds from Nature
Teaching resources for primary and secondary levels that includes background information, student activities, full-colour cut-out 3D models and posters.
See also Backyard Geology: A Guide for Homeowners and Families (US)
If you’d like to suggest outdoor education links and resources that would be a suitable addition to this page, please email firstname.lastname@example.org