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Campus Place-making

Education Outside the Walls

As teaching methods move toward more active and collaborative approaches to learning, there is a significant opportunity to better incorporate the spaces outside of the four walls of the classroom into the curriculum for both childhood and higher education. The pervasiveness of mobile gaming and social media is hampering the quality and nature of students' in person social interactions, and increasingly competitive and outcome-focused learning environments can leave students feeling stressed and uninspired. Opening up the classroom and leveraging previously underutilized outdoor spaces on campus to augment the learning experience can help address these issues. Students and faculty are calling for more from their academic experiences, and by incorporating the potential of outdoor learning, schools can find new ways to inspire, engage, connect, stimulate and empower their students and teachers.

Underutilized spaces transformed. The new Upfit adaptive outdoor structure from Landscape Forms leverages in between spaces on campus to create beautiful and functional spaces for learning.

Designing Spaces for Outdoor Learning

“The quality and intentionality of design is the most important part in creating effective outdoor spaces on campus,” says Julio Lucas, Bond Program Director for East Side Union High School District in Silicon Valley. “In the spaces we design and the products we utilize, we seek to balance durability and longevity with a sense comfort, security and accessibility. The Chipman Chair from Landscape Forms is a great example of a product that is robust and hardwearing without seeming cold or institutional.”

With this same focus on quality and intentionality, a balance between comfort and endurance, Landscape Forms has recently introduced Upfit, an adaptive outdoor structure designed to unlock the full potential of previously underutilized spaces on academic campuses. "In between spaces are over looked and undervalued but hold such potential,” says Chief Creative Officer, Kirt Martin. “As humans, we’re drawn to the outdoors. Upfit transforms unused outdoor spaces into the kind of relevant, purposeful, and enjoyable places we naturally gravitate to.”

Upfit is a modular system of posts, beams, roofing, panels, tables, and accessories that transforms outdoor spaces on campus into purposeful destinations that provide power, light, display, surfaces, and shelter from the elements—all the resources teachers and students need to create meaningful and informative experiences outdoors. Slats provide shade and privacy, while wire mesh can help create pleasing walls of greenery. Peninsula and in-line tables serve as spaces for work, collaboration and conversation, while colored glass panes function as dry erase surfaces. With this range of functionality and customizability, Upfit is a powerful tool for campuses of all types and sizes seeking to maximize the potential of in between spaces and realize the benefits of incorporating the outdoors into the learning experience.

Underutilized spaces transformed. The new Upfit adaptive outdoor structure from Landscape Forms leverages in between spaces on campus to create beautiful and functional spaces for learning. All the modern classroom resources and then some. Upfit’s suite of features and accessories accommodates all the needs of a modern, connected classroom, but with the added benefits of incorporating the outdoor environment.

Learning Outdoors Can Increase School Performance

Research has documented increased school performance through outdoor education, indicating a link between outdoor learning and increased standardized test scores, improved in-school behavior, improved attendance and an overall enhanced attitude toward school. Further, outdoor education effectively employs a greater range of mental and physical skills and can better appeal to a variety of learning styles compared to a traditional classroom setting.

Learning Outdoors is Healthy

Outdoor learning is inherently active and can benefit students' physical, mental and social health. Outdoor learning can decrease stress levels for students and teachers, and access to nature can increase the performance of students who struggle with attention deficit. Research has also indicated an increase in overall physical health and activity outside of school when educators incorporate outdoor learning.

A place to gather, present, and discuss. Upfit supports both traditional and unconventional classroom settings that are designed to support both distributed learning and presentations with varying furniture patterns and configurations.

Learning Outdoors Helps Develop a Sense of Community and Civic Responsibility

Outdoor experiences help students develop a sense of place and can foster richer connections between students and their communities in and outside of school. “Outdoor spaces on campus are an integral part of developing positive peer-to-peer interactions, improving social skills, and learning about care for communal spaces,” says Julio Lucas, Bond Program Director for Silicon Valley High School District. “Offering inviting, thoughtfully designed outdoor spaces at school is an effective way for teachers and administrators to communicate to students that ‘we care about you as part of our community.’”

Learning Outdoors Supports Child Development

Outdoor education can support emotional, behavioral and intellectual development. Research indicates that the incorporation of outdoor learning can better develop a sense of self, independence, confidence, creativity, decision-making and problem-solving skills, empathy towards others, motor skills, self-discipline and initiative among students.

A Learning beyond the curriculum. Upfit creates safe and beautiful places for students to hone social and motor skills and develop a respect for communal outdoor spaces—skills which may be underemphasized in the traditional classroom setting.

Learning Outdoors Engages Families and the Community

Outdoor spaces provide natural entry points for families and community members to get involved with student learning. The relationships developed through outdoor learning can lead to greater parental and community involvement and support for the school.

Learning and Teaching Outdoors is, Simply Put, Fun

The outdoors provides a change of pace from the classroom, a respite that can lead to increased levels of satisfaction and enthusiasm for learning. In higher education, the positive culture surrounding beautiful outdoor spaces can be a deciding factor in the attraction and retention of the best students and staff.