Let’s Take the Learning Outside: The Air is Fine
By Christy Martin, Ed.D.
Last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested that students should learn outside as much as possible. To some educators that are relying on technology, that scenario may seem impossible. Others say students will be too distracted. Not so, say many of the experts.
Schools’ Wi-Fi should be able to handle student Chromebooks from some remote areas on campus. Football stadiums, baseball bleachers, play areas, benches, and even grass can become an alternative to classrooms. Some schools have outdoor eating areas that make the ideal outside classroom.
In instances where Wi-Fi is not up to the burden, instruction can be given outside with the actual time needing a connection brought inside. It would be a welcome relief to students who are returning from schools closed since March and provide teachers and students a moment to take a “breather” outside as well.
There are a multitude of Apps out there that can add to or enhance instruction in the digital age and all the students need is their phone. If all else fails and the teacher is desperate to add a bit of technology to the great outdoors, there is for sure something available that would do that. Almost all students have phones and it would eliminate the necessity for a Wi-Fi connection.
Research tells us that students that have distraction issues function better outside and might be able to benefit from some classroom time outside. One new study from Frontiers in Psychology says that all students are more attentive after lessons outside and that their attention to the lesson lasts when they return to the classroom and on into the day.
Schools with ventilation, air return issues or just plain stale air might want to consider this alternative and find ways to make it appealing to teachers and students.
Finding the right place, at the right time, in the right weather might be challenging in certain parts of the country. As all other things in the education world, this would have to be well planned and timed to provide optimum online experience combined with classroom interaction in real time. Dr. Fauci is not an education expert but teachers are, and they know what is feasible in their classrooms. It would be something for all teachers to consider and evaluate and administrators to do their best to facilitate if it seems like an alternative at their school. Check the signal on various places on campus. Familiarize yourself with phone apps for learning if you have not. Look at possible seating or classroom areas outside and work with teachers to schedule and balance some outdoor time if it works for your school.
While this might not be an option for many facilities, planning with Wi-Fi expansion, physical areas, and integrated instruction might be a consideration. We are learning many things during this pandemic and have tried many things. Moving instruction outdoors alongside technology when appropriate and possible might be one thing that outlives the pandemic.
About the author
Dr. Christy Martin recently retired with 30 plus years of experience as an educator in K-12 and higher education and another 6 years in social service for foster youth. She considers advocating for at-risk youth a calling. Since retiring in February, she has returned to her love of writing, currently practicing that craft by writing about child welfare and school issues. She lives in East Tennessee, 15 miles from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
This article was originally published by The Learning Counsel, a research institute and news media hub focused on providing context for the shift in education to digital curriculum.