Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Master of Education in Leadership with a focus on Outdoor Education

December 9th, 2016
Participants in the Halifax cohort exploring Rogues Roost

The StFX Faculty of Education is proposing to offer a provincial-wide Master of Education in Leadership with a focus on Outdoor Education for qualified in-service teachers and administrators beginning in the summer of 2017. 

This cohort is meant to enable educators to develop their curricular planning and instructional leadership abilities and capacities within their respective school community, in relation to outdoor and experiential education. 

StFX education professor Dr. Andrew Foran has led many workshops, in-services, and certificate programs in outdoor education across the province. He is pleased with the way the graduates from this Certificate in Outdoor Education program are advancing outdoor-experiential practices to meet the unique needs in schools throughout the province. 

“The woods and water are essential for our development as people, and these landscapes are accessible to many of our Nova Scotia schools. The outdoors is becoming again a place of learning and now it is not uncommon to see students heading outside for a lesson on the trail, paddling kayaks as a part of an oceanography unit and on the snow as they take part in a snowshoe excursion or experiencing winter camping, as a part of active living,” he says. 

“Increasingly, I see outdoor classrooms becoming an accepted extension of school instruction making learning for students more active and experiential. School boards are seeing the benefits and are allocating funds, often in concert with teacher-led grants, to purchase outdoor equipment such as class sets of bicycles, cross-country skis, archery kits, and even canoes and kayaks. What I think is exciting is how educators, already interested and involved in outdoor education, are now interested to look at the research that supports place-based learning in the outdoors.”

He says they are engaging in local-regional research that examines the impact outdoor education is having on their students’ health, level of confidence and competence in the outdoors, sense of stewardship for nature and overall engagement in school. 

Another area of immediate research importance to outdoor practices is the ongoing development of risk management practices as they inform curricular developments for teachers, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, and school boards officials. Nova Scotia offers an amazing array of possibilities for being outside year-round. 

“I am very excited to engage with teachers and administrators who wish to move outdoor education forward in their schools and in their boards.”    

Graduate students will be required to attend a campus-based program during the month of July 2017 to complete the first two courses. This face-to-face (F2F) residency has proven to be a very successful part of the cohort experience, serving as both an introduction to graduate studies and building the learning community within the cohort. All subsequent courses will be offered with an introductory session online (OL) via a synchronous learning platform (Collaborate), a mix of online lessons, and in-field experiential unit to augment each course. The 593 is a capping experience to develop an outdoor education program intended to be delivered to students in Nova Scotia. 

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