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Learning the Nuclear: Educational Tourism in (Post)Industrial Sites

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Edited By Natalija Mazeikiene

This book illuminates the educational potential of nuclear tourism and learning about nuclear power in informal and non-formal learning settings. The authors present a case of elaboration of the educational virtual nuclear route in the Ignalina Power Plant Region, Lithuania. Nuclear tourism takes its shape at the junction of several types of tourism – energy, industrial, cultural, and heritage and it becomes a site of outdoor and place-based education, promotes STEM, energy literacy, critical thinking, and environmental skills, and creates a valuable source for virtual learning. The book reveals peculiarities of learning and experience at nuclear power plants and disaster tourism destinations such as the Chernobyl Museum and the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

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What We Find Outdoors: Discovering Nuclear Tourism Through Educational Pathways (Lina Kaminskienė)

Lina Kaminskienė

What We Find Outdoors: Discovering Nuclear Tourism Through Educational Pathways

Abstract: Outdoor education can take place in a variety of contexts, and its realisation in specific spaces can contribute to the development of educational tourism in regions that have not traditionally been classified as tourist attractions. The study revealed that leveraging outdoor education with formal and non-formal education programmes not only promotes the tourist attraction of the visited sites and places, but also creates new jobs and boosts development of museums and other cultural institutions. The decommissioning processes of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant have a direct impact on the social, economic, and cultural development of the Ignalina region and the city of Visaginas; therefore, the development of educational tourism has high potential here. Contextual and region-focused specific curriculum can stimulate the development of nuclear tourism in the region, taking into account the geographical location of Visaginas and the specific environment formed by the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant. Utilising educational potential of nuclear tourism has great potential to attract learners from all over Lithuania and the neighbouring countries, mainly Latvia, Belarus and Poland. Outdoor education has a variety of ways to be implemented by utilising different pedagogical scenarios such as landscape analysis, school journeys, action research, outdoor adventure activities, cultural journalism or field studies. Outdoor education also contributes to the development of new forms of educational structures such as outdoor schools and kindergartens, forestry schools, STEM centres and others.

Keywords: outdoor education place-based education learning environments educational tourism

Introduction

In this chapter, learning environment outside the school and the classroom will be analysed and linked to educational tourism and place-based education. This discussion will help to review the educational potential of areas around Visaginas city and Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant. The educational pathways of the area are currently underexplored by educational researchers and school practitioners. This chapter strives to uncover diverse educational approaches relevant to place-based education directly and indirectly enhances the development of educational tourism.←240 | 241→

Researchers still argue whether outdoor education is a synonym to place-based education, or they are completely separate concepts. The majority of authors agree that the idea behind different names is the same, but they are just labelled differently (e.g., Knapp, 2014), and only few consider that place-based education resulted in a historical development after such movements as nature study, outdoor education and environmental education. Sarivaara and Uusiautti (2018) argue that place-based education is closely related with outdoor and environmental education. They refer to Sobel (2004) who notes that place-based education connects the classroom and the community. Place-based education is also characterised as the pedagogy of place, which incorporates concepts of experiential education, community-based education, education for sustainability and environmental education (Sobel, 2004).

Outdoor education became particularly actualised after the publication of Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder in 2005. Louv coined the term “nature-deficit disorder” with the aim to raise awareness that the contemporary generation of children spend less and less time outdoors and this situation contradicts to the foundational principle of being human. Louv (2008) noted that staying long time indoors causes harm and negative impact on physical and psychological health, and stressed the need for restorative environments.

Historically, the idea of outdoor education is not new, dating back to the 19th-century education; however, today outdoor education has developed new characteristics, and the idea of “outdoor” might be linked to real, virtual and imaginative places. Outdoor education can be defined as pedagogical activities taking place outside the classroom or the school surroundings. Other related and synonymous terms are: learning outside the classroom, udeskole, outdoor adventure education, heritage education, environmental education, field studies, etc. Researcher Fägerstam (2013) notes that two traditions could be identified regarding the outdoor education: the Anglo-Saxon and the Scandinavian tradition. The former relates outdoor education with adventurous experiences that focus on team-building and the development of leadership skills (Thorburn & Allison, 2010). It is also important to note that in the Anglo-Saxon tradition outdoor education is usually, yet, not always, associated with education that takes place in special educational centres, museums, science parks, etc.

The Scandinavian tradition of outdoor education is closely linked to formal education and is implemented as part of the formal curriculum. Fägerstam (2013, p. 1) claims that in the Scandinavian tradition “the term outdoor education most often involves school-based learning outside of the classroom, in the nearby natural or cultural landscape or on school grounds, often with ←241 | 242→a cross-curricular approach”. The researcher mainly refers to the works of Jordet (2007, 2010), who studied outdoor education processes in the regular Norwegian primary schools. It is worth mentioning that outdoor education in Norway has a special name “uteskole”, which means outdoor school. The research performed by Jordet (2010) allowed him to develop a model of school-based outdoor learning. The key aspects of the model are that school surroundings are used as a learning arena and as a source of knowledge.

Rickinson et al. (2004) distinguish three types of outdoor activities: fieldwork and outdoor visits, outdoor adventure education, and school grounds and community-based projects. Fieldwork and outdoor visits are close to what Scandinavian researchers call school-based outdoor learning in the sense that fieldwork is usually linked to a specific curriculum (it may be geography, history, math, literature, etc.); however, it usually takes place outside the school settings and involves visits and field studies in the nature centres, parks, etc. Outdoor adventure education focuses on adventurous activities taking place most often in natural environments and involves such activities as mountain climbing, canoeing, etc. The third group of outdoor education activities is linked to school grounds and community projects that take place in nearby places, not very distant from the school.

The theoretical foundations of outdoor education are closely related to what Gruenewald (2003) defined as place-based education with the following theories of experiential learning, ecofeminism, problem-based learning, socio-cultural theories of learning, Bruner’s free discovery learning theory, and others. Gruenewald (2003, p. 620) claims that a number of contemporary educational strategies rely on the concept of the place: “Experiential learning, context-based learning, problem-posing education, outdoor education, environmental/ecological education, bioregional education, natural history, critical pedagogy, service learning, community-based education, Native American education—all of these approaches to education tend to include engagement with local settings.”

Researchers Siskar and Theobald (2008) claim that not only the place, but also the community are the dominant concepts and approaches in contemporary education. Even though the community and the place are not identical concepts, it is most important that community cannot exist without a place. Siskar and Theobald (2008, p. 70) discuss the distinctions of the two concepts, but they both “represent a legitimate path to a much more substantive definition of what constitutes an education—or an educated person”. Even though the idea of learning outdoors is not new at all, however, numerous discussions on how school curriculum could be linked and realised in various settings are ←242 | 243→still continuing. There are open questions whether outdoor learning is limited to any geographical area, whether it is a part of formal curriculum or is mainly implemented as non-formal curriculum. Moreover, is it a mono-sectorial (purely educational) or multi-sectorial issue, when discussing about educational tourism? Whether outdoor education is somehow influenced by the tendencies developed by educational centres, museums, other places of touristic attraction, or is it a vice versa process that tourism industry discovered underexplored potential of education relating it to tourism development?

Following this discussion, it would be good to return to Gruenewald’s (2003) observations that a multidisciplinary analysis of the place reveals high pedagogical potential as the place may unlock a variety of historical, cultural, biological and other diversities. Linking or even accepting outdoor education as a part of formal education allows the schools to become an equal player of the local context as well as to contextualise learning in real surroundings as opposing to simulative environments developed in the class. Gruenewald’s (2003) work still remains highly actualised nowadays in many countries, going through national curriculum reforms, such as the Baltic sea region countries (Lithuania, Latvia), Eastern and Central Europe (Ukraine) and Asia (Kazakhstan, Georgia, Armenia), some years earlier in Scotland (Thorburn & Allison, 2010) and Finland (the New National Core Curriculum for Basic Education, 2016). For example, Salminen et al. (2016) observe that in Finland in 2010, the statistical data showed that schoolchildren aged 10–14 (grades 4–8) were the most frequent visitors in museums and other type of exhibitions. Researchers indicate that usually school groups are focused on learning subjects from humanities, arts and natural sciences. It is very important that some significant changes might be achieved by applying changes in the national curriculum, what, for example, happened with history studies. Similarly like in Lithuania, school children start learning history as a separate subject from the 5th grade, and accordingly, national museums receive much higher numbers of visitors from this age cohort. After the changes in the national curriculum from 2016, it was decided to start history studies at an earlier age, which museums and other public institutions had to accept and adapt to the new situation.

The dimensions of place-based education, including the perceptual, sociological, ideological, political and ecological aspects, are worth deeper consideration for the countries while reviewing their school curriculum. The idea of extending the notion of pedagogy and accountability towards the place is going as a red line in Gruenewald’s work, and particularly today it is obvious that modern pedagogy needs new inspirations and stimulus to respond to a very demanding new generation, preventing them from being educated in an ←243 | 244→isolated school environment. Moreover, as Cuthbertson et al. (2004) note, there are concerns that technologies put additional barriers between humans and the natural environment, which also raises new questions how technologies could be successfully exploited to bring students and environments closer.

The findings of scientific literature on outdoor education brings forth a critical analysis of current pedagogies and approaches to implement outdoor education and raises discussion on its interrelation with educational tourism. This chapter illuminates dimensions of place-based education and outdoor education and situates them in the array of contemporary educational theories and methods.

Pedagogical Approaches in Implementing Outdoor Education

Naturally, all these conceptual discussions lead to questions how outdoor education can be successfully implemented in educational institutions. The analysis of scientific literature reveals a variety of approaches and cases.

Pedagogies of place: natural history

Natural history as an educational tradition dates back to the Victorian and Edwardian England. In the USA, one of the most famous publications for teachers appeared in 1911, when Anna Botsford Comstock published the book Handbook of Nature Study. Natural history, as Gruenewald (2003) notes, allowed to keep close school-nature (place) connection while implementing the curriculum. Surprisingly, now in the 21st century, this connection in real implementation of the school curriculum for many teachers looks a complicated issue. Natural history is focused on deeper investigation of nature, landscape, biological and cultural diversity. It is not limited to rural areas but can be successfully implemented as pedagogical excursions in urban areas.

A team of UK researchers (Rickinson et al., 2004) analysed studies on outdoor education carried out in the period of 1993–2003. They also noted that historical development of outdoor education was well established in the early 20th century schools. One of the botanical educators was Dr Lilian Clarke who taught from 1896 to 1926, developed innovative teaching practices in the design and use of school gardens. The main principles behind the contemporary outdoor education were laid down in these “school gardens”, and this type of education was aimed at promulgating the use of the “outdoor classroom”; stimulating a proactive view of learners’ creating their own textbooks from “hands-on” work in the garden; recognising that teachers and learners contribute to the pace of ←244 | 245→the lesson; and documenting the teaching to share with others (Rickinson et al., 2004). The contemporary educational traditions associated with natural history are field studies, outdoor adventure activities and landscape analysis.

Landscape analysis

The landscape analysis method was developed as an educational method by the Place-based Landscape Analysis and Community Education (PLACE) programme, an innovative programme by the University of Vermont and Shelburne Farms. The main idea behind this method is to explore the region through the analysis of physical landscape, cultural landscape and ecological landscape. The method allows students to immerse in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities and experiences, using these as a foundation for the study of language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and other subjects across the curriculum. Landscape analysis is one of the approaches to implement place-based education; moreover, it also helps to develop learning through participation in service projects for the local schools and communities. The landscape analysis starts from physical analysis of the landscape, which involves not only geographical or topographical analysis of the landscape, but also urban structures, human and non-human characters. The physical, cultural and ecological aspects of the land are strongly linked and intertwined. Physical landscape analysis helps to understand the origins of flora and fauna of the region, distribution of population in the landscape. For example, Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant region in Lithuania is characterised by a big number of lakes, forests and a relatively small number of population in the area. The cultural landscape of the region always has manifold meanings, cultural artefacts and texts that need to be analysed. The cultural landscape analysis is not limited to centric objects (for example, Power Plant); it requires developing skills for identifying and analysing non-centric objects in the area and learning to unlock and understand their meaning (different living and industrial houses, new and neglected, small farms, etc.). Cultural landscape analysis focuses on a variety of objects and stimulates investigating causes why they have been constructed and what was their main purpose.

The third phase is related to ecological analysis. Ecological analysis is mainly focused to investigate interrelation of human activity with non-human structures, and thus, it strives to analyse how human beings affected and changed the regional landscape over time. Ecological analysis has many connections with environmental and sustainable education as it raises awareness about the interconnections in the regional ecosystems.←245 | 246→

The advantage of the landscape analysis is that one may not implement it in sequential steps, however, going through all phases (performing physical, cultural and ecological landscape analysis) would definitely contribute to a whole understanding of the region by unlocking diverse natural and human activity treasures.

School journeys (excursions)

At the end of the 19th century, the so-called school excursions or school journals became popular, and the person who contributed to the spread of this concept was Catherine Dodd. She supported the idea that educators should enlarge the environment that children could experience. Dodd brought children to various excursions into rural Derbyshire. The new education approach inspired many teachers, and up to now, school journeys have been among the most common outdoor education methods. The main challenge remains that still a lot of teachers limit outdoor education to school journeys and do not sufficiently link this activity with the formal curriculum. In this way, school journeys become simply adventure activities or activities just for amusement and fun without a clear conceptual line and intentions to develop specific abilities and competences. Education scholars and practitioners (Jovaiša, 1993, Garalis, Švagždienė, Liesionienė, 2008) note that school excursions, also called educational journeys, can be of different types. Depending on the purpose, they could be classified into educational journeys with the aim to introduce to the new subjects in the curriculum; consolidating the covered topics, providing overview and complex. The researchers also clearly identify strong connections between school journeys and tourism; however, they stress that teachers and learners should invest sufficient time to prepare for a journey. The preparatory activities usually involve reading and analysing the object(s) to be visited, as well as preparation of special instruments or tools used during the journey (for example, questions to be answered and templates for data recording). School journeys can significantly contribute to strengthening learners’ motivation and help to achieve the planned learning aims. During the last decades, educational programmes have been developed in museums, theatres, information centres, etc., in order to address diverse needs of learners of different age groups. School journeys have a number of characteristics that are common to field studies.

Field studies

Field studies in the UK started rising from 1943, with the establishment of the Council for the Promotion of Field Studies, and since then a network of ←246 | 247→field studies centres has been developed. Zaragoza and Fraser (2017) refer to Harington (2001) who differentiates formal and informal learning environments. The latter is associated with learning outside the classroom, in museums, zoos and specialised science education centres. There are various definitions of field studies. Some of them are close to the concept of school journeys (Krepel, Durrall, 1981), pointing out that field studies are school trips with an educational intent, during which students interact with the setting, displays, and exhibits to gain an experiential connection to the ideas, concepts and subject matter. Obadiora (2016) provides rather a general definition and suggests that a field trip is any teaching and learning process carried out by a group of people outside of the classroom environment. We consider that Zaragoza and Fraser (2017), Harington (2001) and Rickinson et al. (2004) provide a more precise definition of the field studies as they link field studies with a specific curriculum (most often science education) to be implemented in special education centres. Some interesting examples could be found in the Aviation museum in Kaunas (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1:Learning in a simulative pilot cabin at Aviation museum in Kaunas (picture from personal album of L. Kaminskienė).

Rennie (2007), as well as Behrendt, Franklin (2014), distinguish two types of field trips (they are actually very much the same as school journeys): formal and informal. Formal field trips are usually organised to museums, centres and government agencies, and bear an initially pre-organised character. In most typical cases, these programmes are implemented by the staff of the centre or the museum, thus bringing the teacher and students into a similar position. ←247 | 248→Moreover, the experience of such field trips is rather similar to all due to the formal programme the students go through. Researchers, however, stress that informal field trips open very wide possibilities to learning and in such a case experience is very diverse as there are no pre-arranged programmes and every student, as well as the teacher, become co-creators of the unique experience.

Outdoor adventure activities

Attarian (2003) claims that the origin of adventure programmes can be traced to organised camping, environmental and experiential education movements. Rickinson et al. (2004) notice that outdoor education for many researchers and practitioners is linked to adventurous activities such as mountaineering, climbing, orienteering and canoeing.

Attarian (2003), referring to Hale (1975), indicates that by the mid-1970s, over 190 adventure programmes were operating throughout the United States, with over half of the programmes found in college and university settings. Since then, the number of outdoor adventure programmes has been continuously growing. For example, quite recently, Allan and McKenna (2019) noted that outdoor adventure programmes have been implemented in higher education institutions to reduce students’ resilience. In the UK, the outdoor adventure activities date back to the 1920s and have had significant associations with the military aims, particularly for boys, preparing for the challenges of the British Empire.

Action research

Action research, according to Gruenewald (2003), brings teachers and students to a situation which requires rethinking the existing practices and initiating specific action. Gruenewald (2003) treats action research as a democratic process that also develops a sense of ownership of the place as well as socially active personalities, not indifferent to what is happening around in the communities. The most important in this approach is that students are facilitated through the learning process that requires identification and analysis of the situation, the problem and the context, and while initiating a specific action, they experience it individually and collaboratively. In many aspects, this educational approach is very close to another educational tradition, known as service learning. Action research allows students to realise that places are also results of social constructions, and thus planning actions that may bring change or ensure conservation of the situation puts students and teachers of the school in close contacts with local communities. What is also significant in this educational ←248 | 249→process is that the role of the teacher is changed. Beames et al. (2017) states that outdoor education puts teachers and students in similar positions and opens up new collaborative possibilities and co-creative practices. Action research as one of the outdoor education approaches is flexible and open to combine other pedagogies, including natural history and cultural journalism. Thus, the teacher’s role is to facilitate the reflection and investigation process, however, without usurping a dominating position.

Cultural journalism

The purpose of cultural journalism, as Gruenewald (2003) explains, is to create connections between teachers, students and the cultural life of the communities. The popular Foxfire programme has initiated schools to bring children to communities for gathering stories, interviews about local cultural life and producing journalistic pieces such as articles, journals and books.

Cultural journalism has a strong phenomenological background as it allows children to understand and discover how cultural life is developed, perceived and affected by local people; what are culture and people interactions; and how cultural traditions, cultural identities, have been developed over the time.

Graham (2007) notes that cultural journalism mediates interconnections between the learners, teachers and cultures within the community. From his point of view, cultural journalism is a powerful tool or media to analyse and understand local cultures and places that resulted through human activities. Moreover, cultural journalism does not only rely on “verbal” and communicative acts, but also involves analysis of visual culture artefacts, objects and commodities of everyday life of people. Graham (2007, p. 382) provides very interesting cases how cultural journalism could be successfully used in art education:

As an example, high school students in a diverse suburban community created a photographic documentation of the stories of local immigrants through studio portrait photography and interviews. The teachers introduced students to important issues of multiculturalism, social justice, and documentation through films such as Born into Brothels (2004) and El Norte (1994). The students learned the technical aspects of studio photography as well as various approaches to conducting an interview. The project took the students into places in the school and in the community where they had never gone before. The students’ personal journeys were given a public audience when the photographs were exhibited in the town library, accompanied by excerpts from the interviews. Their carefully crafted work honored the experiences of people whose contributions and voices are sometimes silent. ←249 | 250→

It is not only urban areas that potentially unlock a huge variety of material for the learners, but also natural environments with, for example, ecologically sustainable patterns from indigenous local cultures.

Outdoor education and problem-based learning

We can argue that problem-based learning is more than just a method; it could be better defined as a pedagogical strategy. Outdoor education is closely related with problem-based learning, which continues to remain one of the most popular methods and approaches of learning in various educational levels, starting from early childhood education and leading to higher education. Problem-based learning is closely interrelated with such pedagogical strategies as inquiry-based learning, service learning, sustainable education, etc. It is extremely useful for outdoor education activities, notwithstanding where it is organised: in the school settings or places outside the school environment. Problem-based learning is defined as a learning process that is organised in small groups and the purpose of which is to solve the problem through discussion (Wood, 2004); it is the process that takes place in a group collaboration in order to find out as much information as possible, by applying new knowledge to solve the problem. Problem-based learning is an interaction between the learners and the teacher, who works as a tutor, as a facilitator of the learning process. The strength of this method is that it leads learners towards self-directed learning and aims to engage them in the problem-solving process encouraging to identify knowledge gaps; this is a learner-centred learning and based on continuous discussion to solve the problem (Barell, 2007). According to Graff and Kolmos (2006), problem-based learning is effective because it covers all processes within the organisation, helps to anticipate potential threats, and enables them to address these threats timely and properly.

The goal of problem-based learning is manifold. O’Brien and Caroll (2015) present several key goals, starting from developing new skills, learning to work in teams, increasing learning motivation, and deepening problem-solving skills. Through these practices, the learning process, which involves developing critical thinking, acquiring analytical and evaluation skills, developing tolerance, accepting different approaches and perspectives, becomes a natural process.

The typical phases of problem learning involve state-of-the-art analysis, including clarification of concepts, existing knowledge and clear definition of the problem; then it leads to metacognitive processes, which are enhanced by brainstorming, group discussion, mind-mapping and other collaborative ←250 | 251→methods. After these preparatory and “warming up” phases, problem-based methodology is constructed to stimulate analysis of possible solutions of the problem, analysis of alternatives, and analysis and discussion of new knowledge that is needed to solve the problem. The cycle is finalised by meta-reflection activities and systematisation of the applied knowledge and solutions. Typical steps in the implementation of the problem-based learning could be organised in the following sequence:

  • Exploring concepts that are unknown, incomprehensible for learners. Learning of/about the problem presented by the teacher involves identification and clarification of the main concepts so that unawareness would not impede proper understanding of the problem.
  • Finding the cause of the problem. At this stage, the learners are faced with a problematic challenge that encourages them to raise questions and become more familiar with the problem. Learners need to make a number of hypotheses to predict the causes of the analysed problem.
  • Using the ‘brainstorming’ approach – Learners use their existing knowledge to identify possible solutions to the problem. Based on their past experience, they need to identify where they lack knowledge to fully solve the problem. Possible solutions are recorded (visualised, reported, etc.) and used for further processing.
  • Second and third step review is needed for each member of the group to analyse, systematise the results of the second and third steps to create a solution system.
  • Formulation of learning objectives. The teacher/tutor must ensure that the learning objectives are realistic, achievable, clear, specific and relevant to the possible solution of the problem.
  • Independent work of group members. Learners look for relevant information related to learning tasks. The information must also be reliable and practically applicable for solving the problem.
  • Systematisation of results and meta-reflection is the last phase, which facilitates the members of the group to share the information they found while working independently. The resulting information is systematised and combined into a single solution that will be applied to the problem. After the whole process, the learners talk about their experiences, the positive and negative aspects, what they have learned, and what they have acquired to use in future situations and contexts.

When solving complex issues, it is important to look for a logical and reasoned solution to the problem, which means that there is a need for continuous ←251 | 252→analysis, which is achieved by already available knowledge. This learning is like a closed circle, forcing new knowledge to spin when a problem is solved, because when new knowledge is applied again and again, problems arise, which make the process permanent, unstoppable. It can also be noticed that problem-based learning encourages constant thinking, as each part of the process requires new ideas and thoughts; in other words, the process liberates the person and promotes cognition. The process only reaffirms that knowledge is at the heart of problem-based learning, as learners who are unable to apply knowledge cannot implement and participate in the process as full-fledged participants. Learning through problem-based learning is not only about the process, but also about the problem. The problem selection process is a responsible moment because the problem has to meet the needs and experience of the learner group. Working collaboratively on a problem may cause a variety of challenges, particularly when learners, meeting for the first time, are often distrustful and reluctant to cooperate. Therefore, it is necessary to clarify the relationships between learners and their experiences (O’Brien and Carroll, 2015). The chosen problems must be complex, potentially produce a measurable impact on the individuals and the organisation, and relevant to the entire learner group so that the learners have the basic knowledge and ability to analyse the problem; important to the learners’ work and useful for their future. In other words, the problem must be qualitative, thoughtful and real, in order to become a learning stimulus and a source of new knowledge.

Problem-based learning has its advantages and disadvantages. Knowledge that is acquired during problem-based learning is not superficial as the whole learning process is focused on developing the ability to learn independently – learning is organised and driven by the learners. Problem-based learning is also useful for the development of collaborative skills – knowledge sharing, teamwork, ongoing discussion; it stimulates more active learning – learning which is not passive because it requires communication, discussion and critical analysis. This pedagogical strategy helps to improve time planning skills: problem(s) should be solved within a limited scope of time. It also improves managerial abilities – each member of the group must test the position of the leader, supervise the process, manage the time and encourage the involvement of each participant. Problem-based learning enhances lifelong learning competence – the acquired knowledge is not short-term, it is future-oriented, because the learners’ knowledge covers a broad context. In conclusion, the stated benefits promote students’ responsibility and a flexible approach to failure by providing opportunities to learn from ones’ own mistakes.←252 | 253→

Problem-based learning has also weaknesses related to the risk that the learners’ discussion can become formal, without trying too deeply to solve the problem. Insufficient experience in this type of pedagogy may lead to the situation when a learning process become superficial or dominated by the teacher or one or more learners – other members of the group are not encouraged and involved. Yeo (2008) states that lack of experience, skills and knowledge impedes the proper implementation of the process, since problem-based learning requires both – knowledge and skills – to properly implement it. Similarly, learners themselves may become barriers to the quality of the process, as individuals may tend to dominate, control and compete, thus preventing others from entering the process and learning. Competition, if not controlled and properly monitored by the teacher, can disrupt the learning environment and prevent others from achieving positive and rewarding results.

In summarising the peculiarities of problem-based learning, one can say that it is the learning that reduces alienation among learners because all individuals are involved in the process of empowering them to become active. Constant reflection on the problem affects the person individually, which means that he/she cannot be passive during problem-based learning and thus seeks to make the process and the existing activities meaningful. Problem-based learning does not exclude the personal experience that is already available, as the key is to integrate learning into everyday activities so that individuals can be satisfied with the learning process, not just the end result. Stability also prevails in this model of learning, as individuals are equal partners in the process; there are no different roles that could cause conflict in the future. The analysis of problem-based learning also distinguished the importance of identifying knowledge gaps, as each learning session must add new knowledge to the person, important for continuous progress.

Impact of Outdoor Education: Cognitive, Affective, Social/Interpersonal and Physical/Behavioural

Numerous studies suggest that outdoor education linked with community-based education brings positive impacts and shows much higher students’ engagement and motivation in the learning process. Beames et al. (2017) speaks about meaningful engagement, which is nowadays one of the main challenges for educators. There are studies showing that outdoor education contributes well to students’ competences, including analytical capacities, problem solving, leadership, team working, decision-making, etc. Beames et al. (2017) claims that outdoor education might bring students to real life situations that demand ←253 | 254→psycho-motor, cognitive and socio-affective efforts to be employed, and subsequently meaningful engagement develops with each other, communities, environments, objects, etc. Similarly, Jordet’s (2010) model of school-based outdoor learning clearly shows the links of bodily, sensual and cognitive processes, which take place while students are actively exploring phenomena. Moreover, social and communicative factors are extremely important, as the learning experience should be articulated and communicated, thus developing students’ social capacities and bringing education to widen a community context in general. In favour of place-based education, Gruenewald (2003) and Thornburn and Allison (2010) also speak about identity development, rethinking of values, preferences, development of global and local thinking, cultural awareness, broadening understanding of power relations and regional (bioregional) dimensions.

Surface (2016) addresses to the work of Robert Marzano, who cited over forty studies from the 1970s through 2002, which proved that a positive motivation is supported when the learning process integrates and converges messages from homes, communities and schools. Coleman and Hoffer (1987) claim that in such cases students’ academic performance and achievement improve and motivate their further learning. It is important to say that this results not purely from the use of different learning environments, but diverse communities as well. These findings support constructivists’ ideas that outdoor education, or in a more general sense – place-based education, integrates places and communities, thus bringing students to meaningful construction and understanding of the surrounding world.

Rickinson et al. (2004) analysed research studies regarding impacts of outdoor education. They grouped these impacts into four major categories: cognitive (knowledge, understanding and other academic outcomes), affective (attitudes, values, beliefs), interpersonal/social (communication, leadership, teamwork) and physical/behavioural (physical fitness, personal behaviours, etc.). Nundy (2001, p. 4) indicated that three major benefits could be associated with fieldwork: (i) learners involved in fieldwork develop their self-confidence, there is a positive impact on long-term memory, recall, knowledge and understanding; (ii) real tasks during fieldwork contribute to the personal development of pupils, enhancing qualities of leadership, perseverance, reliability, initiative, co-operation and confidence, pupils become motivated; iii) fieldwork also reinforces links between the affective and the cognitive, each influencing the other and providing a bridge to a higher order learning. As Nundy (2001) points out, pupils who are learning outdoors and undertaking real tasks that ←254 | 255→are self-motivating learn at enhanced levels compared to pupils who learn only within a classroom context.

Many research studies indicate increased motivation of learners, for example, Zaragosa, Fraser (2017) analysed how outdoor education made impact on the motivation of learners with different English proficiency and sex. Their research shows that in most cases the learning motivation was much higher outdoors as compared to the same activities in the classroom. Another research, carried out by Cwikla, Lasalle and Wilner (2009), highlighted that the eighth grade students who raised their interest in science during field trips and other related outdoor activities were more likely to take careers in science.

Research indicates that outdoor education has positive impacts on pupils’ creativity. McAnally et al. (2018) assessed the effects of an outdoor education programme with no or limited access to electronic media among 14 year-old boys. Researchers compared creative thinking, socio-emotional wellbeing and materialism with their peers attending regular classes at their normal school. Boys were assessed twice, and the results showed that boys in the special programme outperformed those in regular classes on a creative thinking task. Fig. 2 summarises the reviewed literature, which suggests that in most cases, outdoor education brings positive impacts to the holistic development of personality, developing different domains, including five main domains such as cognitive, social, affective (emotional), behavioural (physical) and personal.

Fig. 2:Positive impacts in the five domains of child development (Kaminskienė, 2020, adapted from Malone, 2008)

In the last years, several studies have been performed in Finland, which also focused on the impacts of outdoor education and how activities out of the classroom support the development of the 21st-century skills: creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration (studies performed by University of Helsinki, University of Eastern Finland and other institutions). The data support evidence that learning in different environments has an impact on the development of the person’s identity and metacognitive skills. Salminen et al. (2016) presume that this might be the reason why it is quite a challenge to measure individual learning outputs outside the classroom settings.

Outdoor Education and Educational Tourism

Similarly to outdoor education, the definitions of educational tourism also vary. One of the definitions, proposed by Ritchie et al. (2003), associates educational tourism with the desire to learn, and learning might be a primary or secondary motivator to travel. Educational tourism can be adult study tours, international and domestic university and school students’ travel, including language schools, school excursions and exchange programmes (Ritchie et al., ←255 | 256→2003, p. 18). Educational tourism is proposed to be analysed and understood through a segmentation process of tourism and education fields. Pitman et al. (2010, p. 220) suggest avoiding segmentation and consider educational tourism as specifically organised tours which promote an intentional and structured learning experience. Thus, according to Pitman et al. (2010), learning is a key component. Providing an overview of conceptual discussions of the definitions and components of educational tourism, McGladdery (2016) proposed a process model of educational tourism, which views educational tourism as a transformative experience. McGladdery and Lubbe (2017) argue that effective learning might occur when clearly defined and appropriate learning-stage outcomes (cognitive, affective and behavioural) of the process are developed.

A literature review of outdoor education and educational tourism helps to identify similar characteristics and even definitions of both concepts. However, taking into consideration that educational tourism involves at least two segments – education and tourism, it would not be possible to put educational tourism and outdoor education on equal sides. Outdoor education is one of the forms how place-based education is implemented, and has a very strong idea of education outside the school/classroom. Educational tourism, however, is not so much focused on activities outside or inside, but rather on the unique ←256 | 257→learning experience. Three main components link outdoor education and educational tourism: place, learning and curriculum, both formal and informal.

Educational tourism has many similarities with school journeys, excursions, field studies and field trips; however, it is a broader concept as it may also involve students’ travel, language schools, etc. Historically, educational tourism has more links to education of the bourgeoisie, whereas outdoor education is very much linked with natural history and gender issues. Notwithstanding these ontological differences, outdoor education and educational tourism focus on specific real/virtual/imaginative places, where people have to travel/visit or experience something new. From this point of view, both outdoor education and educational tourism are closely linked to a broader concept of place-based education; however, we cannot put educational tourism on the same line with other educational traditions, such as experiential learning, sustainable education, contextual learning, etc., for the reason that educational tourism is a trans-sectorial concept linking education and tourism.

From the pedagogical point of view, outdoor education and educational tourism are important while providing diverse contexts of learning, and thus contributing to the realisation of specific curriculum. Outdoor education and educational tourism, as research suggest, have similar impacts on participants and result in most cases in positive changes in cognitive, affective and physical/behavioural domains. Fig. 3 illustrates links of place-based education and educational tourism that go through all dimensions, including theoretical backgrounds, educational traditions, schools and pedagogies.

Fig. 3:Dimensions of place-based education and its links with educational tourism (Kaminskienė, 2020)

For further development of educational tourism, it would be useful to refer to three outdoor educational landscape approaches proposed by Sandell and Öhman (2013): active domination, active adaptation and passive adaptation. Even though these strategies are directly linked to sustainability and environment concern, they could be potentially expanded while exploiting possibilities of urban areas, villages, museums, etc. Active domination is a strategy that treats the existing landscape and environment as “a factory” and should be adapted by using various facilities and measures by creating the necessary infrastructures or providing and expanding activities/services that optimise the best use of the place. Active adaptation is somehow similar to domination but is limited and subordinate to the landscape (time of the year, etc.). Passive adaptation implies studying and adapting the landscape, but without major interventions or changes to it.

Other strategies highlight the importance of integrating arts in outdoor education. Grimwood et al. (2018) describe that urban outdoor educational ←257 | 258→programmes become more effective when successfully combined with dramatic performances, songs and storytelling.

Changes in the national curriculum also change the profile of museums, libraries and other public institutions. As Salminen et al. (2016) note, in Finland library-school collaboration has witnessed changes from simple field-trips of school groups towards the development of libraries’ pedagogical services. Accordingly, today modern libraries are places where a variety of school-oriented services has been developed. With the spread of innovative pedagogies and expansion of the concept of learning, museums have changed their approach to their groups and expanded their audience, creating the necessary infrastructure and facilities for diverse audience, including students with special needs. A significant change has occurred in communication and media used within museums, which was also very much influenced by the increased groups of students from wide age groups. As Salminen et al. (2016) indicate, museums, in addition to their traditional methods such as talking and writing, have adapted media, which uses all the senses.←258 | 259→

Outdoor Education in Different Educational Levels and Contexts

In the last decades, the concept of place-based education brought new projects and teaching approaches into the education field all over the world. Contextual learning and service-learning practices were successfully implemented and spread over different types of education institutions in the USA, Asia (Komalasari, 2009) and European countries. There are no studies indicating that outdoor education or place-based education has limitations to certain age groups or educational levels. Studies revealing the potential of outdoor learning (Glynn, Winter 2004; Becker et al.; Monkevičienė et al., 2018) range from kindergarten, primary to tertiary level education.

Outdoor education in kindergarten

Studies show (Katz, 2010) that children learn mostly about nature, technology, engineering, while being in an environment that encourages to experience, research, experiment, collaborating with adults who raise questions, draw attention, and encourage interest. Therefore, it is important that children in pre-school facilities have the opportunity to be outdoors, in an open space with numerous challenges, objects of study and diversity in their daily activities. Children should have natural objects such as trees, shrubs, grasses and large stones, whose qualities they can learn by observing and exploring. It is also important to have real objects that can be manipulated – boards, building blocks, pipes, canvas cuttings, plates, sand, logs, cushions, as well as work tools such as spades, brooms, etc.; by manipulating these big objects by the laws of physics, they discover gravity, friction and understand structural solutions. When children are able to use different systems that include movement – wind, water, sand, balls – they can explore the laws of motion. The ability to analyse various mechanisms enables them to get acquainted with engineering solutions. Developing and expanding understanding about the natural world becomes possible by exploring the plants in the yard of the preschool, exploring the world of beetles, and caring for pets and wild animals (e.g., feeding birds in winter). Children’s experience expands during their visits to spaces outside the preschool to help them discover the world around and develops their sense of responsibility towards the place they live.

Outdoor education in Lithuanian kindergartens is witnessing a renaissance. More and more pre-school institutions implement outdoor education programmes, which means that educational activities are transferred to ←259 | 260→outdoor settings, both in kindergarten and out-of-school settings. In this way, the environment is perceived not as a continuation of the internal environment, but as an impressive place for the child’s experiential education, research and self-expression.

Outside the classroom, there are opportunities to get to know the environment in various ways: by researching it, finding answers to the questions raised, creating problem situations and solving them, finding relationship between causes and consequences, and most importantly – learning is realised through all the senses.

Several cases from kindergarten education present interesting examples how outdoor education contributed to the development of various competences related to pre-school curriculum. These cases were collected as part of the national research project during April–October 2018, guided by Prof. Ona Monkevičienė and the team (Monkevičienė et al., 2018). Three examples presented below demonstrate how different outdoor education is implemented in Lithuanian pre-school education institutions. One of the examples demonstrates a project in Palanga Municipality.

And the director offered me to take part in it, but I had to come up with the idea myself. Since our focus is on strengthening health, we are thinking about what new methods we could use. And the idea of a borderless education came up…

According to the project, we visited the sea with the children, we read the story “Jūratė and Kastytis” there, we talked about this piece of literature. Before that we bought the amber for the children, we poured down those amber, and they gathered them home. From the seashore we picked pebbles, then we painted on them at the kindergarten. And throughout the spring, education was held outside the class.

If there was a dew in the morning, we put on boots and we travel. We read stories outdoors and look for beetles. At first, we used plastic and paper beetles, and everyone was looking for, finding and putting in the bag. And then we named them, discussed. And after the rain we walked and found all kinds of real beetles, crows, snails. We also discussed how fluff is formed, what is dandelion milk… we are still planning to travel to the forest. And we plan to find treasure in the forest. We anticipate walking on dangerous paths, playing games in the forest. We also plan to go to the stone park. Then we want to make a stone exhibition with our parents, which is called “Let the stone speak”… So we are out in the morning after breakfast. And the morning lessons outside the class….

This interview presents a nice combination of several types of outdoor education. We can find elements of natural history (analysing dandelion milk, snails, etc.), landscape analysis (going to the forest, to the sea), and some elements of outdoor adventure activities (walking on dangerous paths, playing games in the forest). Unfortunately, the interview does not go into detail what kind of ←260 | 261→competences were developed during these activities and what impact on cognitive, affective and physical abilities was achieved. Still, it can be identified from the interview that teachers managed to develop linguistic and literature analysis skills by going to the sea and discussing the poem, which lyrically explains how amber was created in the Baltic Sea area. Botanical knowledge is also an important part of outdoor education. Much attention is paid to physical education and health.

Our long-term project “Traveller to Lithuania: I know, explore, discover”. We’ve already got well acquainted with Vilnius and that is why we went to many other places: museums, centres, and more. Now we go to Trakai, Anykščiai (bread baking, horse museum), there is such a bird village in Ignalina region. Every excursion is a stimulus for new tasks for children. Before we travel, we inquire about what we are looking for on the Internet, contacting those organizers, we already know in advance what the activities will be and we will come up with what they need to discover and learn. For example, when we were baking bread at the horse museum, getting acquainted with the ancient utensils, tasting those Lithuanian meals, kneading the bread ourselves, each shaping our own loaf, we tasted it, enjoyed the smell … And there are so many birds, animals and even some not seen in the bird village. … the children could feed them… Also, the kids could understand how the chicken are born because there was a hen in one place, sitting on the eggs, in another place with a few days of chickens, followed by a grown-up chicken … And then we’re discussing everything we saw in the group: and we have used the encyclopaedias, and we draw and discuss.

The second case has more connection to what was defined as field studies and educational tourism. Children learn to study and observe the environment during excursions, and they become more aware of the interrelation of different phenomena. It gives children unique moments of knowledge of the nature, and creates natural conditions for observing, exploring, discovering, contemplating, summarising and experiencing everything they have learned. Excursions are not limited to the hometowns. There are interesting cases when children and teachers go to various nature monuments, to regional parks, ethnographic homesteads and so on.

This year we started out activities in regional parks. Education has no borders, and everything can be learned in nature …. When we arrived at the New Vilnia barrow, the teachers reminded the children how to behave in the forest, what are the basic rules of warning signs. Starting the journey through the park, each group of children received a basket, where they picked cones, acorns, leaves, etc. during the whole walk. When they climbed the barrow, the children found a stick-curse which they used throughout the trip “In the Kingdom of Trees”. Each group during the walks picked one or more of the trees they liked and studied them: measured the volume of the trunk; analysed the leaves, etc. The educators told and showed how to learn the age of the trees. We brought a piece of ←261 | 262→a tree trunk and we counted the year, compared it with the trunks of other trees… The children looked at the trees from all sides, found the differences, discovered how to learn the directions of the world using the compass. The teachers explained how this affects the trunks of trees.

The third case again presents how natural studies could be organised. Though it is mostly limited to botanical knowledge, some elements of geography (parts of the world) are also introduced. Nevertheless, these cases from pre-school education show that early age outdoor activities lack connections with communities and do not involve cultural analysis. Outdoor education activities are more focused on specific knowledge of the landscape, monuments and places; however, they lack interaction with local people. Children communicate in groups and with teachers, following pre-arranged learning programmes or plans.

Outdoor education in primary, lower and upper secondary schools

The majority of research on outdoor education (Cwikla et al., 2009; Obadiora, 2016; Zaragosa, Fraser, 2017; Grimwood etl. Al., 2018) provide cases from the primary, lower or upper secondary education level. This could be logically explained that the age group from 7 to 18 is “good clay” to apply different educational strategies in outdoor environments. Several cases from a Lithuanian gymnasium reveals that teachers are willing to bring students to different places that allow to link theoretical learning with real places and real personalities, communities.

After visiting B. Sruoga Museum expositions, students worked in groups on practical tasks about the writer’s life and his creation, including historical and cultural conditions of that time. During the Lithuanian language lessons they analysed the work of B. Sruoga in more detail, and also prepared the project work which students presented to the gymnasium community.

This case already presents a complex of pedagogical approaches linked to outdoor education. Literature museums are a good place where students can deepen the knowledge gained at school. Non-traditional learning can help to discover attractive activities; develop personal, social and literary competences for everyone. The museum environment creates preconditions for the creative activities of students of all kinds.

So we applied the idea in V. Žilinskas Art Gallery by participating in the educational program “Fun by the Greeks”. Not only did the pupils get to know the Antique culture, but they also created myths and staged them. Masks, unconventional space allowed gymnasts to improvise, read and create texts. Everyone could choose roles according to their abilities. After the lesson at the V. Žilinskas Gallery, the pupils individually ←262 | 263→performed the practical task during the Lithuanian language lesson at school - they described, evaluated the chosen mythological personality and searched for their correspondence in the works of Lithuanian poets.

Grimwood et al. (2018) describe a case of urban outdoor education programmes. Most of these programmes took place within Toronto parks and green spaces. They included community-school and after-school programmes, as well as weeklong summer day and residential camps, targeting ages 4 to 14. The study revealed a positive attitude of educational instructors towards the urban outdoor education programmes, which shows that outdoor education is not limited only to natural landscapes.

Implementation challenges

One of the main challenges addressed by researchers is related to teachers’ competency and their readiness to implement outdoor education in practice. Notwithstanding the fact that most of the schools use outdoor education as a supplementary pedagogical approach, in rather typical cases, as Maynard and Waters (2007) noted, teachers tend to use outdoor environment in a partial or limited way. It seems that teachers feel rather uncomfortable with outdoor education as it relates to the implementation of formal curriculum and consider it as part of non-formal education. As discussed in this chapter, studies show that outdoor education contributes to positive impacts on children’s development.

Salminen et al. (2016) stress that in Finland teachers are taught to utilise diverse learning environments and not to concentrate on class as the only space where successful learning might be implemented. As the new national curriculum is considerably flexible and is focused on phenomenon learnings, this inspires and facilitates utilising different environments, including museums, libraries and other public institutions, which could become a very meaningful source of learning new things and contextualising them. On the national level, teachers received support through several projects which were oriented to the collaborative practices between schools and public institutions. Despite the growing number of outdoor learning activities in Finnish schools, the researchers admit that there is no official Finnish statistics on how often different learning environments outside the school environment are used.

Another challenge related to the implantation of outdoor education is discussed by Dyment et al. (2018) and relates to the pedagogical content knowledge of outdoor education and pedagogies that should/might be employed to achieve the defined goals. Researchers argue that similarly like other subjects (for example, mathematics), outdoor education has its own subject content, and ←263 | 264→teachers, as well as outdoor educators, should have competence and experience to implement outdoor education in a successful way. Dyment et al. (2018) proposed a framework of pedagogical content knowledge for outdoor education following the analogue of the framework developed for teaching mathematics.

Fägerstam (2013) identified several potentials and obstacles for outdoor education. Firstly, expectations related to implementation of outdoor education raise much higher expectations than this type of education is realised in practice by teachers. So, one of the challenges is to prepare teachers and to set realistic objectives and learning plans. Collaboration among different teachers is also considered as one of the advantages in outdoor education, and this collaboration might help to reduce boundaries among different disciplines. However, the research indicated that the raised expectations were not fully realised, and the implemented pilot outdoor education activities did not increase interdisciplinarity; besides, no stronger collaboration among teachers was observed. Fägerstam (2013) study explains this by lack of time and difficulties in planning, very limited possibilities to go further from school areas as it also requires much more time than the planned school curriculum allows to do. Notwithstanding the identified obstacles, the study shows that outdoor education enhanced participation and collaboration in the class as well as the relationship between teachers and students changed in a positive way.

Outdoor Education in the Context of Developing Educational Tourism in Visaginas and Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant

Outdoor education can take place in different contexts, but through distinctive spaces, outdoor education can contribute to the development of educational tourism in the regions that traditionally or for a long period of time have not been classified as places for tourist attraction. One of the interesting examples of educational tourism development is the city of Visaginas and the Ingalina Nuclear Power Plant. These specific spaces – the city and the area of the nuclear power plant – were developed during the Soviet period. This particular historical period and the fact that workers and specialists from different parts of the Soviet Union were involved in the construction of the power plant contributed to the result that the majority of the population in the city is Russian-speaking and of other nationalities. For more than forty years, Visaginas has become a kind of ethnic, cultural and linguistic island in Lithuania. The completion of Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant decommissioning is planned for 2038. When planning these decommissioning processes, it is important to define and ensure a further development of Visaginas city, which defined itself as a nuclear city ←264 | 265→and as a satellite of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant. The decommissioning processes have a direct impact on the social, economic, cultural and identity development of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant region – there is a need to reconceptualise and reconstruct urban and regional identities. Moreover, the city has not yet developed its economy, which has been dependent on the power plant for the last forty years. Nuclear tourism is one of the economy development strategies for the city and the region, which may adapt international experience from Europe, Japan, the US and other countries. However, nuclear tourism cannot be successfully developed without attractive concepts behind it. These concepts, as international experience shows (Mažeikienė, Gerulaitienė, 2018), have a strong link with educational goals. These educational goals may stimulate the development of nuclear tourism within the region, taking into account the geographical position of the city and Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant. The city and the plant as tourism and “educational centres” have high potential to attract pupils and students from the whole of Lithuania as well as neighbouring countries, mainly Latvia, Belarus and Poland.

The Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant was built in the area that is interesting for a variety of reasons: geographical landscape, the plant and the landscape affected by the human activity, historical perspective (the Soviet period), energy production and the role of the plant in Eastern Europe, post-Soviet countries, etc. All these aspects create an inexhaustible source for outdoor education activities.

Outdoor education, as discussed earlier, has a variety of ways how to be implemented: through school journeys, action research, problem-based learning, etc. We will discuss how Visaginas and Ignalina Power Plant context and the place can be successfully used to develop outdoor education activities on the one hand, and contribute to the development of educational tourism on the other hand.

The city of Visaginas is a very interesting place for exploration by applying such methods as cultural journalism, field studies, action research, problem-based learning and other pedagogical strategies. Cultural and ethnical uniqueness may be analysed by applying the method of cultural journalism. Learners could be assigned to analyse and record different signs in the city and try to understand what the city is “communicating” through signs, adverts, textual, visual or audio information and media. The city could also be analysed through different perspectives: historical (and then the communication of the city is important through cultural representations and archives, old newspapers and journals, documentaries that could be accessed in the library and/or other institutions); the historical perspective and story can be enriched by interviews of local people. Another perspective could be cultural; the city of Visaginas ←265 | 266→could be analysed as a multicultural place, and students could explore which acculturation strategies have been employed by local people (using time perspective yesterday and today). Cultural journalism, as described earlier in this chapter, is an extremely powerful method, which generates a vast amount of resources and information. These resources sparkle imagination and might be potentially exploited for developing tourism attractive places in the city, offering unique stories, events, etc.

One of the examples, how outdoor education can be implemented and supported with technologies, is illustrated by the following case. Emokykla (E-school), an e-learning platform, offers assignments related to Ignalina region. These assignments can be used during geography lessons for grades from 6th to 8th. Ignalina region is characterised by a spectacular landscape that was formed by the last Ice Age. The e-learning platform offers pupils to create a comic about how the site around the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant has changed. The pupils are encouraged to describe what new components of the landscape have emerged, how they have changed the environment, and how the plant has affected the wildlife. The pupils can also virtually predict how the Ignalina region will change in twenty years after the closure of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant. The above-presented assignments can be done with or without visiting the place of the plan; however, deeper learning will be achieved if we combine both, e-learning and landscape analysis.

Mažeikienė and Gerulaitienė (2018) indicate that regions around nuclear power stations are also well known as nuclear tourism destinations. According to these scholars, “new forms of nuclear tourism” encourage schools to organise educational visits to power plants and the museums or tourism centres in these areas in order “to give understandable and unbiased scientific information about different topics: atoms, radiation, ionizing radiation and health, reactors, robots, physics and much more” (Mažeikienė, Gerulaitienė, 2018 p. 5674). Following these researchers, obviously, Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant is a place to enlarge knowledge in STEM subjects, including physics, chemistry and technologies. However, not less important is the fact that nuclear tourism places bear a mystified character, which stimulates imagination of tourists, willing to discover “dark” and mysterious stories related to the power plants. Thus, from the educational point of view, Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant as well as its satellite the city of Visaginas, offer a vast amount of information and almost unlimited opportunities to implement some components of the curriculum through outdoor education activities for different age groups. Obviously, this region can find its place among tourist routes in Lithuania and can be potentially integrated into a wider international network of nuclear tourism destinations.←266 | 267→

Conclusions

Outdoor education is not a new phenomenon; however, it always deserves attention from researchers and practitioners regarding its scope, objectives and a variety of implementation ways. Historically started as natural history, outdoor education today is evident in diverse forms and pedagogical solutions: school journeys, field trips, landscape analysis, adventure activities, etc. In the last twenty to thirty years, mainly influenced by experiential pedagogy, outdoor education has proved to be a successful approach to developing learners’ cognitive, affective, social and behavioural domains of different age groups.

Outdoor education and educational tourism have common stems coming from the concept of place-based education, which has been affected by a variety of theories, including ecofeminism, bioregional development, socio-cultural theories and other spheres. Still, we cannot say that educational tourism is a form of outdoor education simply for the reason that educational tourism is trans-sectorial and links education and tourism with its own objectives to attract people to specific places (be they real, imaginative or virtual) and educate them. Even though most researchers keep to the position that outdoor education, environmental education, etc. are historically changing concepts of place-based education, there are definite differences that should not be merged and fully aligned.

Notwithstanding the fact that outdoor education suggests using active pedagogies, one of the challenges remains to prepare teachers to work in creative ways while implementing outdoor education as they tend to limit outdoor education to field trips and school journeys. Researchers also identify that school raises extremely high expectations for outdoor education, yet in practice a lot should be prepared and realised step by step. Things do not change dramatically, but the schools should be ready for a systemic and gradual development of their approaches in outdoor education practices.

The final efforts should be addressed to learners – young children, teenagers and even adult learners. There is no evidence that outdoor education should be restricted to some specific age groups, even though most outdoor education practices in many countries are focused on children from 4 to 15 years. Linking educational tourism, which attracts much more adult learners, and outdoor education, which is still more related to school education, we may get very unique synergy which will not only help us to develop important skills, attitudes and behaviours of learners, but also raise awareness and responsibilities towards the places we live. Returning to Louv’s coined term “nature-deficit disorder”, we should think about the advantages that outdoor education and ←267 | 268→educational tourism might bring to our societies in terms of education, health, natural and cultural preservation, sustainability, and identities development in the globalised world. Outdoor education and cultural tourism should not be contrasted; on the contrary, they are developed in parallel, and our schools, education centres, museums, libraries and other institutions and actors should be ready for the change.

From the educational perspective, it is strategically important for Lithuania to develop nuclear tourism as it may open a variety of outdoor education activities combined with sustainable education, environmental education, bioregional education, service learning and others. More actively involving Lithuanian schools, kindergartens could contribute to raising awareness among young population about the variety of tourism and tourism concepts, enhancing learning of STEM, languages, history, economy, geography, physical and health education, arts and other subjects. Taking into account the experience of Scandinavian countries (Finland), more initiatives could be undertaken by the library of Visaginas by offering diverse educational programmes, cinema festivals, cultural programmes, etc. for different age groups.

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