The Clouds that Store and Rain: Digital Technology in Outdoor Education

Mr David Hills1,2, Dr Glyn Thomas2

1Brisbane Grammar School, 2The University of the Sunshine Coast

Digital technology has become an integrated part of the modern day educational experience and it has never been more important to encourage students to develop a range of skills beyond the classroom (Dewey 1897; Hahn, 1957; Mortlock, 1987). The digital technology options available to outdoor educators has significantly increased with a variety of hardwear and software choices. This technology can either enhance or impede learning and its application needs careful consideration (Thomas & Munge, 2017). When does digital technology actually help outdoor educators achieve their learning outcomes or does it simply place additional barriers in front of the environment they are trying to connect their students to? This presentation will review the literature on this debate as well as a look at which digital technologies are being widely used by the sector. Examples of effective uses of technology will be discussed alongside some approaches to guide you on when and how to use these new digital tools.  Finally, with augmented reality, drones and the explosion of artificial intelligence, we will touch upon what the future holds for our sector. Which of the large dark ‘clouds’ should be embraced, and which should be avoided?


Dave is a full-time teacher of Outdoor Education at Brisbane Grammar School and is also researching for a PhD in Education at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Dave qualified in North Wales in the UK before completing his Masters in Education whilst working at the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland. Dave has taught Outdoor Education in the UAE, Canada, America, New Zealand and Greece but is now settled in Queensland with his family. He sits on the Queensland Outdoor Recreation Federation’s board as the vice chair and was previously the Chair of the Institute for Outdoor Learning Scotland and the CEO of Queensland Canoeing. He is currently researching the relationship between outdoor education and technology and hope to ensure that the importance of taking people outdoors is still recognised as valuable in 2050.

About the Association

Outdoor Education Australia (OEA) was established in 2006 as a national network of outdoor education associations. The organisation facilitates communication between state and territory outdoor education associations about the practice and delivery of outdoor education; advocates for outdoor education across primary, secondary and tertiary education; and provides policy advice.

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