Getting outside with Tech and Trees

I’ve just spent a week in the woods, metaphorically speaking.

Being immersed in a Forest Schools course with Richard Wood, has been very enlightening. 

Tech is so often a target and blamed for the reduction in outdoor access for children, so how about finding a middle ground?

My plan is to bring the tech and trees together. 

In my other life, beyond the classroom I’m a bee keeper. In the time I’ve been doing that I’ve learned a lot and it’s inspired me to do different things digitally too. 

I’ve recognized that nature and tech have a lot in common when used correctly. But  both can be a cause for concern: either about the mud or about the screen time, concerns about risk can be high in both. 

Meanwhile both can inspire connections, discussions, sharing and dialogue. 

They both create a great opportunity for people of different ages to share their knowledge and work together. 

Contrasts

Like that famous picture of students in front of the Nightwatch in a gallery who were engrossed in their phones yet they were in fact checking their assignment, the use of technology outdoors might be misunderstood or a source of activity. 

Opportunities

Children can use a device in a number of ways outside. 

  • It can remind them about a task. That can be done with paper but paper gets crumpled and can’t speak.
  • It can record events and achievements by them or for them.
  • It can collect inspiration. David Hockney used an iPad as a tool to create art. Though perhaps advancing in years, he embraced the capacity of this tool to provide a huge pallet of colour in one slender piece of equipment. And his prolific work shows the powerful results. 
  • A device can guide you through an unknown land. Pokémon Go may have been a scourge of the summer for some but it was a platform for virtual reality where sharing information created connections and exploration and discovery. 

The digital world shouldn’t dominate the outdoors by any means but it can be harnessed in appropriate ways. 

Tech users can participate in citizen science projects by uploading data that tracks science and animals. Identification becomes easier with access to the internet. 
Forest Skills

How many times, when we need a skill in real life do we need to source help from You Tube? I’ve been finding out how to bake bread on a stove from Ray Mears. It’s definitely going to get me outside. 


Lost knowledge

Finding people who can light a fire or make a mallet with traditional skills becomes harder and harder. Technology allows us to share these skills and prevent them from dying out. 

Such skills are identified as positive opportunities to be in the open, to solve problems, collaborate and develop self esteem. 

Life skills which build people and teams effectively. Tech can take us outdoors.
I’m really looking forward to exploring meaningful uses of technology in the outdoors. 

What real life skill have you used in the outdoors but learned with technology?

Did you find a resource online that made a job easier to do? 

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2 thoughts on “Getting outside with Tech and Trees

  1. I’m a homeschool mom, and am always looking for engaging material. I’m sure you have heard of Pokémon Go, well we have our own version. We use the Merlin Bird ID app, to identify birds on our nature walk. My goal is to teach my son that tech is a tool, just like his flint box.

    Liked by 1 person

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