Expeditions – Learning on the Move
How do you motivate young people for physical activities in rural areas, seemingly boring environment? They just sit and play video games, you say? In fact, Eurobarometer states, that youngsters in EU lack physical activity. At the same time the tendency is obvious that young people use increasingly more new technologies and 80% of young people connecting to internet daily. What about combining these ingredients: physical activity, seemingly boring environment, technologies and the spice of adventure for learning?
We realize that our lives and learning happens increasingly more on the move. The course took place in Lithuania, where more than 40% of young people experienced emigration. People always used to migrate and take advantage of the benefits of better pastures elsewhere, changing often their dwelling places – crusaders, Western colonialists in the East, nomads, Roma and Kalmyk people, just to mention few. And people continue to be on the move! Just think of Erasmus students, IT consultants, Western nomads in Bali, Syrian refugees, Indian development aid workers or Chinese road construction workers in Africa, etc. So, moving around the globe for better conditions of life, work, study and vacation is not a new thing, but it is increasing.
These days we are all somewhat nomads in our societies. We live and learn on the move. How can we make the best out of it? How can we improve our learning? We decided to experiment and give it a try!
In the first training course of the project “Expedition”, Designing Adventure in Rural Environment, we wanted to connect all these ingredients and bring them into one learning methodology framework for young people from seemingly “deprived” rural living context.
The idea of expedition implies a journey undertaken by a group of people with particular purpose, especially that of exploration, research, or development. We are inspired by concept of expedition to create learning programmes and methodology that embed challenges into a journey to reach educational goals.
Expedition means using all senses. As a result you get a greater impact than other ways of learning. If you include technologies – then you get the whole circle of learning aspects. Learning on the move gives much higher outcome with less resources. It is about recognizing what resources you need and at what time. “Don’t bring wood into woods”. In conventional learning on the move the reflection is by yourself, but if you can share your experience in the framework of Expedition – it is a totally different impact.
Creating learning adventure for young people in their environments is the main idea of “Expeditions”. We offered opportunities for members and leaders of organisations to experience, design and test “Expeditions”. As a project result people felt empowered to offer educational expeditions for young people.
Our offered framework for educational expeditions is an open concept to be filled with particular content tailored to the target group and specific environment. This framework has certain elements. As an outcome of a training course in Lithuania we suggest following educational framework for “Expedition” creation.
- Unusual situations. Adventure implies something unusual happening. However, there is no need to travel to Himalaya with your young people to have adventure. Just by changing one dimension of the routine can bring great experience of adventure, such as changing time (going at night instead of day), changing means of moving (fly instead of walk, walk on high heels or barefoot), change the diet, spend different amount of money for provisions than usual, etc.
- Challenge. Pick an interesting objective challenge. Invite your young people to define their own personal challenge. What are they good at? Maybe the opposite can provide learning potential! For a fast person to be more slow? For a dominant – to act more in the background? Consume driven – to walk with a lot of possessions?
- Uncertainty. Don’t plan everything to the very detail.Otherwise your expedition could turn into a boring relaxing tourist trip. People learn a lot from being lost and losing a paddle in the middle of the lake. Mistakes provide great learning opportunities. Uncertainty, unexpected and surprises around what will happen during expedition and what the outcome of it will be are the core aspects of this framework!
Expedition is based on the approach of “Theme Centered Interaction”, where learning happens not only along the topic, but includes relationships between one’s own personality, topic, the group, environment and the context. “Expeditions” are different from lonesome informal traveling, because they provide opportunities for experiences in the group and feedback from other participants.
When moving you have to keep your attention on the task and at the same time perception of the place. It is about learning what is important for you, to learn to leave things behind. Sharing experiences is very important. I learned a lot during traveling, but when you can share about your experience in the group, it is much more powerful.
- Transport. Expeditions enable to try out different means of moving/traveling and reflect the impact of them on experience.
- Digital and online tools. Enabling to enrich the experience by adding gamified experiences or enabling people to discover various spots by themselves. Some IT tools (e.g. Geocaching, Actionbound or Open digital badges) can be even a substitution for the guide, showing the direction and spots to be visited.
- Analog tools and equipment
I learned how to combine the challenge with the ability of my participants, taking in consideration surroundings, time, what is available to me that includes adventure, but leads to learning outcome and is not just for fun. I liked tech tools, either to design badges with Badgecraft or using Actionbound. I can use tech to make natural expedition more attractive for youngsters. With Badgecraft they can be proud about their achievements. Moving around and being in different settings with other people inspires more than conventional learning setting. Fotini Komninou
Principles and values
- Non-formal learning
- Experiential learning
- Appreciative approach. Let the experience happen and allow time and space for experience itself so as for personal and group reflection. Learners are the ones who determine their learning outcomes.
- Planned and prepared
- Opportunities and limits
As a next step we want to extend the idea of Expeditions to the urban environment. If you are curious about how our idea can be adapted in urban environment, apply for our course “EXPEDITION: Designing Adventure in Urban Environment” in Weimar/Erfurt, Germany 26.09.-30.09.2016
It was good that we as participants could work on our own in groups developing own expedition and had chance to experience all the process from the beginning to the end which empowers me to do the same in my home country with my group straight away. For me it is not easy to combine nature and digital technology, but now I feel it will be useful and functional tools for our coming projects and events.
If you want to host a training activity about Expditions, contact us!
This article is an outcomes of the training course “EXPEDITION: Designing Adventures in Rural Environment” which was organised in May 2016, in Lithuania. This project involved youth leaders, youth workers and educators from 9 European countries. Applicant organisation: Culture Goes Europe, Sociocultural Initiative Erfurt E.v.