With many schools worldwide closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and thoughts turn to how education can safely resume. One of the options teaching staff should consider is outdoor learning. Professor Heppell has created a resource page for teachers on the value of outdoor learning.
Firstly our Learnometer project has been analysing environmental data from learning spaces. Optimals would be CO2 below 1,000 parts per million, light above 500 lux, temperature 18-21°C, pollution as low as possible, noise below mid 70dB. In many many classrooms that we have surveyed, CO2 is too high (because children breathe), light is poor – often down to barely 100 lux, pollution lingers from the cleaning regime, temperature is too high. In those sub-optimal learning conditions attention, behaviour, performance, recall (and joy!) are all diminished.
Outdoor learning brings optimal CO2, the light is often into thousands of lux, the air circulation keeps temperatures manageable, or at least feeeling better. As I type this page the CO2 inside my workspace is 286% higher than outside, light is 30 times brighter outside, temperature +5°C warmer inside, pollution outside is just trace (I’m by the sea) and indeed all the inside readings are sub-optimal.
We might add that current guidelines on coronavirus emphasises the the role of Vitamin D – which is boosted by outdoor sunlight.
Secondly, movement is important to cognitive function. Much detail here, but put simply movement helps blood circulate oxygen to the brain.
You can read the full article and see all the resources on Professor Heppell’s site here.