Digital Technology in Outdoor Education: Results from International Research

Mr David Hills1,2, Dr Glyn Thomas2
1Brisbane Grammar School, Brisbane, Australia, 2The University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Australia


Digital technology can enhance and distract from learning in the outdoors and educators are constantly making decisions about which digital tools to include or exclude. This research explored how and why outdoor educators include and exclude digital technology in their programs. Data was collected via surveys, interviews, observations and focus groups from over 50 participants in Australia, the UK, America, Canada, and New Zealand. This presentation will outline the preliminary results of this research. It will report examples on which technology was included and excluded, what the rationale for doing this was, the pedagogical considerations and how outdoor educators knew that their decision was effective. It will also report upon examples of intended and unintended consequences of technology inclusion and exclusion. This session could be interesting for anyone who makes decisions about digital technology in outdoor education and offers a structure to ensure that any decision is intentional, critically analysed and evidence-based.

Dave is a full-time teacher of Outdoor Education at Brisbane Grammar School and is also researching for a PhD in Educational Technology at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Dave qualified in North Wales in the UK before completing his Masters in Education whilst working at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland. Dave has taught Outdoor Education in the UAE, Canada, America, New Zealand, and Greece but is now settled in Queensland with his family. He has previously held positions of interim Chair of the Institute for Outdoor Learning Scotland, CEO of Queensland Canoeing and vice-chair of the Queensland Outdoor Recreation Federation. He is currently researching the relationship between outdoor education and technology and hopes to ensure that the importance of taking people outdoors is still recognized as valuable in 2050.

About OEA and Outdoors NSW

Outdoor Education Australia (OEA)  was established in 2006 as a national network of outdoor education associations. The organisation 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.

Outdoors NSW is the go-to place for all things outdoors in NSW.

The peak body for the outdoors in NSW, the organisation, (formerly known as ORIC), represents the outdoor community, advances outdoor standards, safety and practices, and fosters greater participation in the outdoors.

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