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Latest DEFRA Study Shows Positive Signs for Learning Outside of the Classroom

Girl Using iPad in Nature: Study Shows Positive Signs for Learning Outside of the Classroom | LocknChargeUK News | LocknCharge

A new 25-year plan from DEFRA, (The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs in the UK) named ‘A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment’ was published in the first month of 2018, and looks to have wide and positive effects for outdoor learning.

The plan sets out the government’s comprehensive and long-term approach to protecting and enhancing our natural habitats and the environment. The paper states that connecting more people with the environment will promote greater well-being.  A major part of this is by encouraging children to be closer to nature, in and out of school.

With the seasons offering so much in terms of natural diversity in the UK (and many other places), and with Spring in full bloom, there is a wealth of opportunity to learn about insects, plants and animals that would live naturally in this habitat.

This month, the first sightings of bees and ladybirds are being reported.  The decline of the honeybee in the UK and elsewhere has been a well-known and documented problem, and one that could have huge effects on our food supply.  A lethal combination of the Varroa mite and the deformed wing virus has resulted in the death of billions of bees over the past half-century.  That proves just how important it is that education wise, school children are aware of the dangers and effects that outside factors, as well as their actions, could have on nature and how this can be nurtured.

There have long been challenges for schools to fully appreciate outdoor learning.  These challenges have arisen from factors include funding, accessibility to green spaces, time, and finding appropriate ways in which this type of learning can be applied and transferred back into the classroom.

In terms of funding, it appears to be great news for schools.  The UK Government will make available £10 million of funding to support some new initiatives moving forward, including those designed to encourage and support outdoor activities, particularly where a child has no access to a family garden.  This is most apparent in urban, inner-city areas, where apartments and high-rise blocks are common.

Two major initiatives proposed in the plan include supporting schools in the most disadvantaged areas to create nature-friendly grounds that support pupils’ health and wellbeing through contact with nature, and also help create school grounds that support learning about the natural world.

Part of the plan states, “We want to make it easier for schools and Pupil Referral Units to take pupils on trips to natural spaces on a regular basis where they can combine learning with feeling healthier and happier. This might involve class visits to a city farm, a local nature reserve, woodland or National Park.”

With LocknCharge being founded in Australia, where the curriculum has the rationale that the outdoors is crucial to the development of positive relationships with others, there is much emphasis on the environment and having interaction in lessons with the natural world.  There is a belief that outdoor learning engages students in practical and active learning experiences in natural environments and, and this typically takes place beyond the school classroom. In these environments, students develop the skills and understandings to move safely and competently while valuing a positive relationship with natural environments and promoting the sustainable use of these environments.

The CarryOn mobile device charging station from Lockncharge is designed with this in mind.  It is the most portable charging station on the market, combining a compact design with built-in handles, to make distributing devices easier than ever before. As well as the CarryOn, LocknCharge baskets have been deliberately made to assist with deployment of tablets within the classroom environment.  This can assist with outdoor learning and help bridge the technology gap in that area.  Tablets can be used effectively as a learning tool outdoors, and offer fantastic opportunities to take photographs, to store information, and to refer to (when looking at plant species or animal/insect facts for example), especially in places where it is not appropriate or feasible to use a traditional pen and paper.

The CarryOn, and baskets, ensure devices are kept safe when transporting from the classroom to outdoor spaces. The CarryOn can hold up to 5 devices and is designed to accommodate Chromebook, Tablets, or iPad devices up to 33cm.

When used in the right way, technology can assist to help shape our children into responsible individuals who care for and protect our environment.

To learn more about our tablet charging stations, click here.

Research:

https://www.outdoor-learning.org/News/Latest-News/new-25-year-plan-from-defra-looks-positive-for-outdoor-learning
http://www.lotc.org.uk/breaking-news-new-25-year-plan-from-defra/
https://australiancurriculum.edu.au/resources/curriculum-connections/portfolios/outdoor-learning/

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