5 Reasons Outdoors Learning Improves Performance

5 Reasons Outdoors Learning Improves Performance

As a company we’ve always focused upon creating the most favourable environment for people to learn. Otherwise they find other things to lose their attention within.

Over recent decades different learning strategies have surfaced, are superseded and sometimes get blamed for under-performance.  Ultimately, returning to the science and the learner experience, it’s all about how favourable was the learning environment that first stimulated and then helped to retain the new learning. As we know, there’s not just one answer, but a blend.

It could be online, it could be a good old-fashioned book, it could be a total 3D immersive experience or trying to navigate a lake on a raft your team has made from old barrels and ropes (and its looking disastrous half-way out)

Outdoor Learning – Where exactly?

Outdoor learning is particularly useful for behaviour, skills and mindset learning. If you want to help change behaviour and stimulate new habits, outdoor learning is a powerful catalyst.

Outdoors is sometimes assumed to be just team-building events in the wild but it stretches far wider and can also include

  • Urban and street smart learning events. In a variety of different urban and city locations specifically chosen and connected to learner challenges and the outcomes in mind. Think learning in Hyde Park close to Speakers Corner for a wide range of life lessons in confidence, handling challenge and blocks, grit, determination and sticking to your purpose through the tumble weed moments of life.
  • Historical sites that have relevance to the story/reason behind the learning, the target audience or the organisation’s vision and purpose.
  • Cultural learning spaces that connect to aspects such as inclusion, perceived difference, curiosity and the breaking of limiting beliefs and self imposed norms. Think a tour of the universe at Greenwich’s Planetarium.
  • Emergent interactive spaces that combine nature (including the myriad of behaviours worth witnessing from other species), with music (great for changing brains in learning) amidst the biggest demonstration of purpose that exists, the big out doors. 

5 Science Backed Reasons for Outdoors Learning

  1. Different learning styles are required for different learners. The outdoors stimulates them all, instantly.

    The traditional view of learning within institutions, academies and corporates restrict what is available to learners that Mother Nature has in abundance, and is readily available in an instant. Every child that grows into an adult learner is unique, so it follows that our uniqueness benefits from unique learning spaces. As the science shows, attention remains higher outside of traditional learning environments because nature is the biggest immersive, multi-layered experience there is. It’s vastly more connected to all our major senses and therefore deeply stimulating and interesting.

  2. Physical movement improves performance, mood, motivation and achievement.

    Science shows physical movement changes old habits, limiting beliefs, confidence and our Neuro-physical presence. We know through our experience in Embodied Learning that the movement of the body re-wires the brain – Its capability level, proactivity to reactivity and our ability to thrive and do more than survive. Academic achievement has also been measured to show its results are improved through physical movement.

  3. Motor Skills improve capability, belief about capability, confidence and resilience.

    We know from early learning that children who don’t practice their locomotor skills (walking, running, jumping) and manipulative skills (throwing, catching, rolling) early on are more likely to be inactive and dislike physical activity and sports as they age. To the point by which Ofsted noted that outdoor spaces can really help young learners to combat a sense of underachievement. In the business world this links to adult confidence, (such as presenting in front of others) beliefs and beliefs about competency versus actual potential and support 2 of the 5 pillars of resilience everyone needs in todays business world (WRAW model), which are maintaining Physical Energy and Inner Drive.

  4. Outdoor learning contributes to richer social and emotional development and physical wellbeing.

    In both child and adult learning, doing so together in outdoor spaces increases our ability to understand and respect each other’s boundaries, areas of uniqueness and collaborative capability. The same applies in adult development, and further. When outdoor space is optimised for business learning it creates increased intensity and/or complexity. These stimulate new learning as adults are positively stretched into a far greater range of behaviours and competencies.

    E.g. consider the team life raft mentioned at the beginning. In the middle of the lake, the raft is pulling apart and the pressure within finding a new solution (complexity) is magnified by the fight, flight, freeze response (intensity) the team find themselves gripped within. Behaviours, boundaries and communication are radically stretched – mirroring the fast paced business world and so the learning opportunities here are massive. Further enhanced by the opportunities for stronger social bonding, with both established and new relationships. In outdoors learning even rivalries of old can fade away, whatever the final outcome of wet clothes or dry land.

  5. Outdoors space creates greater accountability and team development

    For mostly historical and institutionally imposed reasons many of us spent years, separately learning at desks as children, teenagers and even as adults. This has promoted a hidden bias towards learning in isolation and on individual merits. Unconsciously promoting cliques and elitism. Outdoors learning reverses these out dated methods and match the business world in which collaborative interaction, innovation, embracing diversity and problem solve together, are the life-blood of successful organisations. Further as groups begin to cultivate greater accountability for the barriers and challenges that will arise. New beliefs form such as, “If we can do this, we can do anything”.

In Conclusion

People love our learning as a result of creating the most favourable environment to learn. Sometimes this asks more of our customers and their organisation, post our blended learning events. Has the organisation really paid attention to the quality of the environment that the learners have returned back into, at work?

Is it one that creates the most favourable environment for them to integrate the learning?

It’s all too easy for organisations’ to not look after the environment the learning is landing back into. Business as usual takes over and our advice and recommendations to nourish and keep the learning in the business and enjoy the best ROI can get pushed aside.

Learning outdoors is incredibly impactful and memorable and when it’s matched by both the leadership vision and cherished and supported by the operation, performance can soar because you’re creating the most favourable environment for them to do so.

Get in touch to talk more about maximising your learning return on investment.

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