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Education outside the classroom

Udeundervisning.dk is a free Danish online portal with the aim of presenting expert knowledge surrounding the teaching practice known as 'education outside the classroom (EOtC)’ or ‘school-based outdoor learning’.

 

The purpose of the portal is primarily to meet the current challenge that schools face during the reopening of Denmark during the Covid-19 pandemic.


>> How Danish schools manage the reopening using outdoor learning.


However, schools all over the planet are facing similar challenges. We hope that some of the materials and links provided at udeundervisning.dk may be of use to practitioners across the world.

 

The accumulating research suggests health and education benefits of EOtC. We are excited to disseminate this knowledge and are willing to assist, where possible, those interested in implementing these practices in other educational or cultural contexts.


>> The group behind the portal

 

We strongly believe in the health and education benefits of EOtC and see its expansion during the Covid-19 pandemic reopening of Denmark as a positive opportunity, given to us in this otherwise challenging period.

 

Many institutions and organisations in Denmark have experience with EOtC. A national survey from 2014 showed that around one fifth of all Danish schools’ practice EOtC on regular basis, i.e. Udeskole (translation: 'outdoor school’). They each possess their own knowledge of good practice and many offer free examples of teaching courses. We want to connect these Danish actors and share our own knowledge and research in the field, as well as interested parties in other countries.

 

We would like to give thanks to all the institutions and organisations to which we link. We hope that their experience and material will be used extensively.

Danish schools are back in session

From April 15th 2020, Danish schools are back in session. The priority during the gradual reopening of Danish schools during the Covid-19 pandemic has been getting the children outdoors as much as possible, as recommended by the Danish Health Authority and the Danish Ministry of Children and Education.


"The children will be spending much more time out of doors and fewer children assembled in the same area" (the Danish Health Authority)


When the teaching is moved outside the classroom to the school's outdoor areas or to the schools' local communities, it results in a changed framework of teaching. It also means that there are opportunities to use the environment actively during classes and that there are better opportunities for movement.


Far from all teachers have experience in delivering EOtC. We want to support teachers so that they feel confident in this practice. Therefore, this online portal provides materials and links to be used as inspiration for education outside the classroom during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Education outside the classroom

‘Education outside the classroom’ (EOtC) or ‘school-based outdoor learning’ is teaching practised outside the classroom or outside the school buildings, sometimes on

regular basis (i.e. Udeskole), and is based on the curriculum goals. EOtC may take place in many settings, such as the school yard, nearby or distant nature areas, companies operating in the local community,  museums, churches,  recycling places, etc.


>> UDESKOLE IN SCANDINAVIA: Teaching and Learning in Natural Places

>> GROWING THE UDESKOLE MOVEMENT: Finding Balance in School-Based Outdoor Learning


Ideally, there will be a connection between indoor and outdoor learning objectives. Lessons are prepared in the classroom prior to the outdoor sessions and pupils’ experiences of outdoor lessons are reflected on, when they return to the classroom.


Despite some scepticism and apprehension among some school leaders, teachers, pupils, and parents, there is a rapidly-expanding research base demonstrating the positive impacts on both pupils and teachers (e.g., please, see The TEACHOUT study for further details).


Regular use of EOtC (i.e. Udeskole) has been found to be linked to the pupils’ physical activity levels and to increase their social wellbeing, school motivation, but also their academic performance.


>> LESSONS FROM DENMARK: The Benefits of Reading, Writing and Arithmetic in the Great Outdoors


The researchers in Denmark behind the portal 'udeundervisning.dk' has been exploring elements within regular EOtC practices and pedagogies that appear to be particularly promising in ensuring successful outcomes. Example, regular use of EOtC have a potential to support explorative and inquiry-based teaching.


Despite increasing awareness about the benefits of regular use of EOtC, we appreciate that embarking on EOtC can be intimidating. We hope the portal udeundervisning.dk can provide some support in this regard.


If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us at kontakt@udeundervisning.dk.

The TEACHOUT intervention

TEACHOUT was a Danish quasi-experimental and cross-disciplinary research project running from year 2013 to 2017 in primary and lower secondary school. The aim of the study was to evaluate the impacts of the TEACHOUT intervention on pupils’ physical activity, well-being, and learning. Pupils from 18 primary and lower secondary schools in 46 classes were included in the study, of which pupils from 27 classes were taught one school year (2014 to 2015) based on the TEACHOUT intervention.


The effects of the TEACHOUT intervention at grades 3 to 6 were mainly analysed by comparing pupils who were regularly taught using EOtC to pupils taught as usual. In addition, the study investigated experienced EOtC teachers’ classroom management and practices in EOtC through qualitative case studies with interviews and observations.


The TEACHOUT intervention

  • Two-day introductory course to education outside the classroom pedagogy.
  • Regularly practiced education outside the classroom (i.e. Udeskole) five hours weekly, in 1-2 sessions.


>> The TEACHOUT intervention TIDieR checklist


The extent of the TEACHOUT intervention was equivalent to approximately 15% of school hours on a weekly basis or equivalent to 7% of children’s waking hours Monday through Friday.

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