29 March 2016
The impact of technology on how students experience the great outdoors will be on the agenda when the University of the Sunshine Coast hosts Australia’s largest outdoor education conference this week.
The 2016 National Outdoor Education Conference will bring 240 researchers, educators, students and fieldworkers to USC’s Sippy Downs campus from March 29 to April 1 to consider the theme ‘Innovate, Educate, Celebrate’.
As part of the conference program, USC Senior Lecturer in Outdoor Environmental Education Dr Glyn Thomas will lead a workshop on how the increasing use of technology to enhance learning in the higher education sector may impact current approaches to fieldwork.
“Sometimes there has been a resistance to technology within the field, as outdoor education is often seen as a way of getting students away from technology,” Dr Thomas said.
“But given technology is now fairly pervasive throughout education, my approach is that it’s best to work with it rather than fight it, and to harness it to achieve student outcomes.”
Other sessions will focus on innovations in curriculum and pedagogy, including a workshop on risk management delivered by Professor Paul Salmon and Dr Natassia Goode of USC’s Centre for Human Factors and Sociotechnical Systems.
Several USC PhD candidates will also present their research at the sold-out event.
On Thursday 31 March delegates will participate in a full-day field component, choosing from outdoor activities ranging from a 12km bushwalk to kayaking and ‘surf dancing’ at Noosa’s Main Beach.
Dr Thomas said the field component would showcase the Sunshine Coast’s beautiful natural environments and allow participants to network and consider industry innovations in a hands-on context.
USC is the only university in Queensland to offer a dual degree in health and physical education and outdoor education. The new Bachelor of Education (Secondary)/Bachelor of Recreation and Outdoor Environmental Studies has been well received, with more than 50 students enrolled in its first semester.
— Jarna Baudinette