A chance meeting between two researchers on the Rottnest ferry in 2020 inspired a unique outdoor teaching course that has won a prestigious international grant.
"If you are going to take the time and trouble to arrange an excursion for a group of students, why not use it as an anchor across all disciplines?"Professor Myra Keep
Teaching Outdoors, a five-week professional development course for K-12 teachers run by The University of Western Australia, was awarded an Advance HE Global Impact Grant for its innovative approach to global challenges in higher education.
The micro-credential course grew out of a conversation between two UWA researchers from very different fields – Professor Myra Keep from the School of Earth Sciences and Professor Alex Ludewig from the School of Humanities – who share a love of teaching on and about Rottnest Island (Wadjemup).
“Alex and I had both started at UWA back in 1997 and had never met, but a chance encounter on the Rottnest ferry led to us coming up with the idea to expand the field experience to more disciplines,” Professor Keep said.
“Many disciplines already use field teaching for specific elements, but we had not yet come across this multi-disciplinary approach elsewhere in Australia.
“One of the main purposes behind the initiative was to maximise the outcomes from a single outdoor teaching experience.
“If you are going to take the time and trouble to arrange an excursion for a group of students, why not use it as an anchor across all disciplines for follow-up work in class for the rest of the term or semester?”
Professor Ludewig said the grant would enable the unit, about to enter its third year of delivery, to expand into environmental humanities, creativity, arts and languages.
“So far we have focused on K-12 teachers to empower them to bring multi-disciplinary explorations to their schools, however it could also be used as part of teacher training experiences and as a final-year unit for undergraduates across all disciplines,” she said.
“Imagine you have students from engineering, law, music and psychology who work together to contribute to a project to develop teaching resources for under-resourced schools or tackle local environmental issues – the concept has unlimited potential.”