Expanding the Horizons of New Field Staff in Industry; Contextualising Experiential Education Theory

Mr Aaron Simson-Woods1
1The Eagle Academy, Carina, Australia


The aim of this workshop is to propose a practical way of teaching facilitation of adventure-based learning.

After examining the application of experiential learning theories taught in Certificate 4 Outdoor Recreation courses it is apparent that there is a gap in understanding around the experiential learning models. The Kolb’s cycle, Nested Loop, or Theory of Change are too complex to be understood by new outdoor leaders struggling to find their confidence in the facilitating a Trangia briefing let alone understand complex pedagogy theory. Outdoor experiential education models need to be simplified to build staffs knowledge and understand of adventure base learning.

The three-stage learning cycle (Plan do review) in a certificate 4 Outdoor Recreation course allows for a simple model for students to understand. However it is the supporting knowledge and understanding of the “How, What and Why” that creates a competent facilitator.

This workshop will unpack the education outcomes that can be achieved in outdoor education programs:
– ACARA General Capabilities;
– Hanh Philosophy;
– Personal, Interpersonal and Environmental Understandings.

As well as unpack the background knowledge that creates a competent facilitator:
– effective questioning (Blooms Taxonomy)
– sociology,
– psychology; &
– Stages of group formation.
These are the skills that create a competent facilitator.

Successful training of new facilitators needs to take an in-depth look at the “the why”. To achieve this we as trainers need to develop our trainees understanding of these skills.

Aaron Simson-Woods is a trainer assessor working for The Eagle Academy and The Outdoor Education Consultants additionally is the director of Adventure Industries. I have a varied background working in the outdoors including as a ski instructor in the USA, teaching physical education in Sweden and being a team mentor for the Outdoor Education Group.
In 2007 I left Australia to begin working in the outdoors as a ski instructor in West Virginia. This led me to working additional season in Perisher and Park City, Utah as a children’s ski instructor. It was here the seed was planted to work in the outdoors. In 2009 I started my Bachelor of Health Sport and Physical Education at the University f Queensland which saw me do placements at Maroon Outdoor Education Centre and with the Gap State High School GOALS program.
In 2013 I move to Europe to work in Sweden as a physical education teacher, where I was given the opportunity to develop my first Outdoor Education program. A simple two day program aimed at getting students outdoors and enjoying being in nature.
Returning to Australia I set my focus on becoming a full-time outdoor leader and started my studies to complete my cert 4 in outdoor recreation. Upon completion of this course I packed up and moved to Victoria to work for OEG as a team mentor. This led me to identifying that staff development and academics was where my passion lied and led me to perusing a role of a trainer assessor.

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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