Where? Where? Wedgie!: Adventure learning meets citizen science

Andrew Hughes

Bookend Trust


The Bookend Trust has been delivering adventure learning programs  through their online platform, Expedition Class, for over ten years. Hear how these programs have developed and adapted to motivate students and teachers to engage in science and environmental education from a different perspective, an adventurous perspective. This year they are leading the education component of a citizen science project to learn about and count Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagles. Find out how students can participate from the classroom and in the field. www.expeditionclass.com/ www.naturetrackers.com.au


Andrew is the Bookend Trust Education Manager and creator of Expedition Class. For eleven years he has undertaken adventure learning projects in Australia and Papua New Guinea that involve an average 3500 students in the online learning platform. He was the 2009 Australian Geographic Spirit of Adventure recipient, 2012  Bryce Courtenay Power of One Australian Hero and 2013 Tasmanian Australian of the Year.

Vocational Education Training “Outdoor Recreation Training Package Review”

Liz Horne

Skills Engagement Specialist, SkillsIQ.


The Commonwealth Government has been leading a process of reform in the VET Sector over the past three years.  This reform has led to a number of changes in standards for training packages, structure, funding, timelines and process.  The new structure has been designed to ensure employers have more input into the development of training qualifications for their sector.

SkillsIQ, under the direction of the Sport and Recreation Industry Reference Committee (IRC), is undertaking a thorough review of all Outdoor Recreation related training package products packaged within the SIS Sport, Fitness and Recreation Training Package.  Many outdoor education programs use staff who have VET qualifications.  This session will provide an opportunity to understand the expected changes in the Outdoor Recreation Qualifications.

  1. Outline the key direction and goals of the review
  2. Explain the review process
  3. Highlight the main changes in the current draft of the outdoor recreation qualifications


Liz has held a variety of key leadership roles in outdoor education, camping and outdoor recreation and expedition based learning for 30 plus years.  She has led staff teams from 20 to 250, and remains passionate about supporting the staff who work in the outdoors community to be the best they can be.   In her current role at SkillsIQ, Liz is the project leader of the Outdoor Recreation training package product review.

University outdoor education graduates: What do they know? What can they do

Glyn Thomas, Scott Polley, Sandy Allen-Craig, Heather Grenon, Marcus Morse, Anthony Mangelsdorf

In the outdoor education profession in Australia, there are multiple pathways for employees to demonstrate they have the knowledge and skills to work in the field with students. Graduates from the VET sector can refer to the National Outdoor Recreation Training Package to articulate and verify their competencies to prospective employers, land managers, and insurers. Graduates from universities have their transcript with a list of courses they have passed but typically this will less effectively communicate their knowledge and skills because of variations in terminology and exit standards between institutions. Polley and Thomas (2017) have identified the possibility that threshold concepts could be used to address this problem. The Delphi method is an iterative process that collects and distills the anonymous judgments of experts using several rounds of input and feedback to provide clarity around a problem or phenomenon (Skulmoski, Hartman & Krahn, 2007). This presentation reports on the Delphi research process used to develop the first draft of threshold concepts for two distinct roles commonly filled by university graduates: outdoor activity leader and outdoor education practitioner. It is hoped that these threshold concepts will provide a common language that will provide clarity regarding university outdoor education graduates’ skills and knowledge across Australia. The first draft of threshold concepts will be released in this session for discussion and feedback from those in attendance. The next steps in the process of providing better clarity for university graduates will also be discussed.

Polley, S., & Thomas, G. J. (2017). What are the capabilities of graduates who study outdoor education in Australian universities? The case for a threshold concepts framework. Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education, 20(1), 55-63.

Skulmoski, G. J., Hartman, F. T., & Krahn, J. (2007) The Delphi method for graduate research. Journal of Information Technology Education, 6, 1-21.


The team of presenters has a fair bit of experience in tertiary outdoor education as evidenced by either grey hair or the lack of any hair. Collectively, we work in five different universities in Australia.

Place-based outdoor education: Practical pointers from our environmental interpretation colleagues

Dr Glyn Thomas1

1The University Of The Sunshine Coast

Place-based outdoor education has been attracting growing interest across the outdoor education profession as an alternative to place-less outdoor programming that fails to consider what affordances specific locations may provide. This enthusiasm for place-based outdoor education is understandable, but there’s a paucity of empirical research demonstrating its more effective in helping students realise environmental learning outcomes. In my view this ‘radical’ approach to outdoor education programming could learn much from the work that our colleagues have been doing in parallel professions for decades. Environmental/heritage interpreters have been communicating and educating visitors to parks for more that 60 years across the world. In this presentation, I will draw on research conducted over the last three years across four different countries. I have collected more than 800 photographs of environmental interpretation signage, analysed and coded the text and images, and used a constant comparison method to identify emerging themes. I used Tilden’s (1957) principles of interpretation and Ham’s (1992) practical guide to interpretation as my theoretical interpretive framework to make sense of the strategies being used to educate park visitors. I will share the place-based wisdom that can be gleaned from the environmental/heritage interpreters who developed the signage used to inform this study. Implications for place-based outdoor education will be discussed.


Ham, S. (1992). Environmental interpretation: A practical guide for people with big ideas and small budgets. Golden, CO: North American Press.

Tilden, F. (1957). Interpreting our Heritage. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.


Glyn has been educating outdoors since 1990. In more recent times, he has started an undergraduate program for HPE and OE students at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

Re/considering outdoor education as environmental pedagogy: Challenges of living with/in/through curricula development

Dr Alistair Stewart1

1La Trobe University

During the past 15 years a number of researchers in outdoor environmental education have questioned previously taken-for-granted universalist approaches and emphasised the significance of specific contexts and locations of practice. Complementary developments in outdoor education research have addressed the role of place in outdoor environmental education pedagogy and curriculum.

In this paper I re/consider the interrelated concepts, contexts and complex conversations (with colleagues, students and others) that have shaped my approach to curriculum, pedagogy and research during the past 15 years. I utilise a curriculum autobiography method, rhizocurrere, to chart my attempts to develop and promote Australian outdoor environmental education practices that are inclusive of, and responsive to, the places in which they are performed. This paper emphasises the complexity of developing curricula that engage, in a respectful and generative way, with the natural and cultural history of the Australian continent. The paper explores some of the challenges of attempting to think (and teach) differently about Australian outdoor pedagogy as environmental education.


Dr. Alistair Stewart is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Outdoor and Environmental Education, La Trobe University, Bendigo, Australia. His research interests include poststructuralist curriculum inquiry, and place-responsive pedagogy, with particular reference to natural and cultural history.

Education or Entertainment – The 4 C’s of Outdoor Experiential Learning

Mr Peter Smith1

1Coefficent Pty Ltd , 2University of the Sunshine Coast

Education or Entertainment – The 4 C’s of Outdoor Experiential Learning

Observations during my career teaching outdoor education have led me to believe that quality outdoor education relies on the four Cs. Remove challenge, Connectedness, consistency or continuity from your program and you essentially remove the education from experiential learning outdoors. You may as well just pay for students to stay at the Big 4 Caravan Park.  Do you want integrity in your program or mindless entertainment value?

This presentation will reveal how challenge, Connectedness,consistency and continuity are critical to quality experiential learning occurring in outdoor education.  Specific examples will be evidenced of outdoor education programming in which these four elements have been implemented to result in highly developed learnings for students. As a proponent of this teaching methodology I will also draw on personal teaching experiences to highlight successes incorporating the 4 Cs.   Students taught using this methodology have highly developed relationships with self, others and the natural environment.

Intrigue abounds – Come learn about the 4 C’s


Peter Smith has spent his life teaching and inspiring people through facilitating outdoor education programs. His personal philosophy on teaching students outside can be best summarised in the following statement delivered at a staff training prior to Year 9 Journey 2016 (Trinity Anglican School )
“When instructing in the outdoors, keep it simple. Initially, simply ask for respect for self, others and the environment. Then bring the complexity in when they grasp the meaning of commitment, exhaustion, pain, suffering, joy, loss, disappointment, patience, power, fear and triumph. The outdoors is an unsurpassed environment to undertake this essential education. People are placed in situations regularly where they are taking real responsibility and often able to observe the consequence of their actions. All that is required by a good facilitator is to cloak the whole thing with meaning.”

When not teaching students outdoors Peter passes time telemark skiing and paddling canoes and kayaks hopefully on whitewater.

The extraordinary power of outdoor experiential learning

Mr Bruce Parr1

1Bruce Parr

The extraordinary power of outdoor experiential learning.

The full dark of a moonless night. North Queensland, 1987, waiting for the bus. Jungle behind me, beach in front. 17 people got off the bus to meet me. 14 of them were physically or mentally disabled. Another was the clinical psychologist in charge and the remaining two were psychiatric nurses.

“John” was the most obviously disabled. 28 yrs old, born with ‘motor disconnect syndrome’, he walked normally on smooth surfaces but on gravel or rough surfaces he shuffled jerkily, with his right hand floating beside him as he struggled to keep his balance.

My contract was positive behaviour change in two days and the referral came from my recent work with habitual criminals.

The results, especially for John, were extraordinary. Over the two days John shouted and screamed as he went through the activities and struggled mightily with his disability.

John rewired his brain and his body over those two days, and the psychologist was so shocked when he saw John walking normally across the beach, across the rocks, and across the tidal rubble, that he fell off his chair and spilt his coffee, saying “It’s gone!” Then – “I need to write a thesis on this!”

I didn’t need a thesis, I already had a new theory of outdoor experiential learning that was simple and repeatable and it worked. Now it’s time to pass it on.

The workshop will present a basic outline of how the theory was applied including the learning objective, principles and application, and how I believe John changed his mind.

It will then be thrown open to delegates to brainstorm how they can move forward with this in the context of their own outdoor ed programs.


Bruce has been involved in outdoor education since 1965 when he qualified as a special forces operator. On leaving the military in 1971 he promised to pay back to the community the $6 million spent on his training. Since then he has trained and facilitated in outdoor experiential learning over a full range of clients. He has written training manuals on rock climbing; abseiling/rappelling; leadership and high performing self managing teams; and has successfully delivered them in the field. He has had notable success in facilitating positive behavior change in criminals, disabled people, and years six and seven school children.  This workshop presentation was accepted for inclusion in the 2008  international conference on experiential learning but was forced to cancel due to a family emergency.  Bruce has twice presented at national outdoor ed conferences as a member of OEAQ.

Outdoor Education Scope and Sequence – A case study of application in a non centre-based, K-12 school.

Mr Darren Osmond1, Ms Emma Beveridge1

1Trinity Anglican School

Trinity Anglican School is a K-12 independent school in Cairns with a well-developed outdoor education program spanning years 2-12. The detailed outdoor education scope and sequence in place informs the design, delivery and future development of its many and varied programs in a range of outdoor environments.  Along with an investigation of the scope and sequence itself, several components will be examined in detail, including a student reflection journal tool, program front-loading and pre-briefing techniques, learning transfer and program de-briefing.  Examples of cross-curricular practices will also be discussed, including key linkages with hospitality and geography in particular.

Having a non centre-based outdoor education program gives ultimate flexibility to make programs fit the scope and sequence, not vice versa.  The diversity of the Tropical North Queensland environment and culture adds more interesting dimensions to potential learning opportunities.  At Trinity Anglican School all staff attend outdoor programs with their classes, providing a great opportunity for learning transfer back into regular school life, especially in primary programs.  In secondary programs some pre-and post-program facilitation is done using a flipped classroom approach, through the use of Stile interactive online learning.


Darren Osmond and Emma Beveridge are the full time staff members of the Trinity Anglican School Outdoor Education Department. Darren has lived in Cairns for 20 years after completing postgraduate outdoor education studies in Brisbane. He has worked in a range of outdoor settings, including delivery of the Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation at Cairns TAFE. Darren’s passion revolves around navigation sports and he enjoys mentoring students through the challenges of learning to navigate cross country. Darren has worked at TAS for 12 years, with roles including Director of Outdoor Education and Director of Sport and Activities, Duke of Edinburgh and World Challenge Coordinator.

Emma Beveridge joined the outdoor education team at TAS only last year, having come through tertiary studies at La Trobe, Bendigo and working in range of outdoor education environments in Victoria. Emma is a keen cyclist and has enjoyed the introduction of more mountain biking activities at TAS, as part of the outdoor education program. She is heavily involved in the outdoor education curriculum at the School and looks to facilitate cross-curricular linkages wherever possible.

Packrafting – an Educational Tool for the Future

Mr Mark Oates1

1The Hutchins School

Packrafting! You have seen the incredible photos, read the inspiring stories yet you are still unsure as to whether they are a simply a glorified pool toy. Find out why packrafting is seemingly on the cusp of a boom at the moment with more and more people keen to experience the advantages that these ultralight inflatable boats provide. Learn why a number of schools in Tasmania have incorporated these highly addictive adventure tool into their curriculum and the opportunities that these craft can create.

This practical presentation will look at:

  • Packraft design and options
  • A variety of models available
  • The capability and limitations of packrafts
  • Educational trips that schools in Tasmania currently undertake
  • How they have been incorporated into the curriculum at The Hutchins School
  • Resources for aspiring packrafters


Mark Oates is a passionate whitewater adventurer who moved to Tasmania 8 years ago from Victoria to explore its remote rivers and rugged mountains. Mark works at The Hutchins School in Hobart and is heavily involved in teaching the Power of 9 Program and  the TASC Outdoor Education course to senior students. As a teacher of outdoor education for 20 years and an Advanced Whitewater Instructor he offers some insights into how packrafting can be incorporated into school programs for the benefit of students.

Navigating in the Field – a simple acronym for teaching students

Mr Mark Oates1

1The Hutchins School

Looking for simple ideas on how to teach secondary students to navigate off-track?

Mark will provide a quick overview of a simple acronym that he encourages his Year 10 students to use as a helpful checklist when navigating from one point to another with a topographic map and orienteering compass.

The acronym is O COMPASS and it provides students with 8 simple steps that they should complete in order to ensure that they have all of the information they need to proceed from one known point to another.


Mark Oates is a passionate outdoor educator and adventurer who moved to Tasmania 8 years ago from Victoria to explore its remote rivers and mountains. Mark works at The Hutchins School in Hobart and is heavily involved in teaching the Power of 9 Program and the TASC Outdoor Education course to senior students. He has been teaching outdoor education in secondary schools for 20 years.

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