Document Type

Unpublished Paper

Publication Date



outdoor classroom, outdoor learning, Windsor-Essex, functionality, education



Outdoor classrooms are valuable learning environments that are adaptable in the face of differing terrain, climate, geography, weather and changing educational requirements. They can be used to teach all subjects, engage students in personal development goals and organizational priorities, and promote community involvement. How can educators harness the vast potential of outdoor classrooms as a learning tool? Understanding their functionalities is one means. This research employs an online questionnaire and optional follow-up interviews with various types of educators throughout Windsor-Essex County to help participants understand the functionalities of their own outdoor classrooms. Results showed that educators had different interpretations of what constitutes the features of their outdoor classroom, but one certainty was that they were using each other’s outdoor classrooms as well as public green spaces for learning. They indicated more than 100 reasons for taking their students into the outdoor classroom. Benefits/perceived benefits of time spent in the outdoor classroom for educators and students (perceived) included feeling calmer and more peaceful, increased physical activity, and better student-teacher rapport. Students were also perceived to better understand the topic. Educators were keen to discuss the amount of space, the transmission of sound and the diversity of texture as topics of functionality. This research has the capacity to benefit educators and administrators who work at schools, school boards, pre- and in-service teacher education programs, museums, and a variety of organizations (such as environmental, historic, faith-based and youth development) that use outdoor classrooms.