As in teaching in general, also in education outside the classroom, the main objective is learning. In every step of the EOC project or activity, the teacher has to think about what kind of actions promote learning. 
The ultimate goal is that students learn new things, and everything should be planned and implemented from that perspective. It is great if students have fun, but that is not the only objective. When students are engaged in meaningful learning, they usually experience feelings of excitement, shared understanding, and joy.
Participatory and experiential learning methods are often used in education outside the classroom.
Participatory learning

Participatory learning

Participatory learning means that students learn best when they are active agents and construct their knowledge of the subject being studied. For constructing personal knowledge, the students need to actively participate in their learning process. Ownership of learning can only be achieved if the students internalize knowledge through interaction, communication, exploration and experimentation.
Experiential learning

Experiential learning

Experiential learning enables observations in a variety of ways: by exploring, sensing, and experiencing things personally. Collaboration is an essential part of experiential learning. Collaborative learning arises from sharing one’s thoughts, experiences and observations.
Nowadays many children and young people are aware of and concerned about environmental issues, e.g. climate change and global warming, plastic pollution, and loss of biodiversity, and they want to participate in offering solutions to environmental problems. It is important that their voices are heard, and they are encouraged to act responsibly for the environment! By encouraging children at an early age, we have a chance at raising active citizens who want to participate in, value and support sustainable lifestyles in adulthood.

First steps

If a teacher has not implemented teaching outside the classroom before, it makes sense to start with small steps. At first EOC activities may seem challenging for both a teacher and students, when they are familiar with classroom setting, and before new routines are formed.
It is advisable to plan and implement EOC activities regularly, so you will develop a routine with them.

When thinking about an EOC site initially, it would be good to consider a place nearby a school that is easily and safely accessible. For many, this can be the school yard or nearby park or other green area.

One of the pre-arrangements is to check if EOC activities can be done in collaboration with one's colleagues. This usually increases the quality of the activity, helps in planning, implementation and reflection. In addition, collaboration allows teachers to learn from one another.

It should also be considered if the developed EOC project or activity could be shared with all the classes in the same grade in one school. Education for sustainable development should be something that the whole school commits to!

Students can be engaged in developing and planning the EOC activity in many ways.
For example, the students can be involved in choosing a suitable topic for EOC activity. Pupils can also give suggestions on the methods / activities implemented during the EOC project. If the teacher already has the objectives and contents chosen, the students can suggest suitable locations etc.



Pre-learning is an important part of the learning process. 
Pre-learning means orientating to the new topic, mapping pre-existing knowledge, setting research questions for the actual EOC activity etc. Pre-learning activates pupils’ prior knowledge and helps them to make the right connections between new knowledge (acquired during EOC activity) and pre-existing notions. This way new information is easier to understand, and it becomes relevant to students. Half an hour pre-learning before 1,5 hours EOC activity is a good rule. If a topic is new to the students, more time will be needed for pre-learning.


Post-learning / reflection

Post-learning / reflection

If pre-learning is important, so is post-learning / reflection as well. The post-learning should include deepening the learned new topics, reflecting the whole learning process, analyzing what has been learned and what we still want to learn, setting new learning goals for the future etc.
Post-learning / reflection is thinking about and analyzing one’s own learning. Reflective learners process their learning, relate it to what they already know, adapt it for their own purposes, and translate thoughts into action. Reflection develops creativity, ability to think critically about information and ideas, and metacognitive skills (ability to think about one’s own thinking). Furthermore, reflecting one's own learning enhances deep learning. Through reflection new knowledge is adhered to one's own knowledge structure and is more easily remembered afterwards.

Sustainable development in education video

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) empowers learners of all ages with the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to address the global challenges we are facing, including climate change, environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, poverty and inequality.
How to transform education through Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)? With this video you will learn:

  • Finland as an example using ESD in curriculum
  • Latest research related to ESD and concepts
  • The main top 3-5 transitions happening in education at the moment
  • The challenges, problems, concerns and needs schools face in relation to these transitions/trends and how to overcome these challenges
  • Results, benefits, outcomes in using ESD
  • Outdoor education and ESD
  • Learn about existing solutions in the field of ESD you can start using immediately
  • New insights and concrete tips, advise and resources to get started

In this video Dr. Marianne Juntunen, awarded as the most innovative science teacher in Finland, together with her colleagues Karla Soto and Marjo Vesterinen open up the challenges as well as the numerous opportunities related to ESD.

Quality Criteria

Quality criteria refer to the requirements that should be met when a teacher plans and implements education outside the classroom. Students get meaningful learning experiences when the quality criteria are fulfilled in education outside the classroom process.

The following indicators are essential when aiming for quality EOC learning experiences for students:

  1. EOC activities

    support the idea that the core of the whole process is learning - focus on authentic real-world and contextual phenomena, creating deeper connections with the issues of today’s world (e.g. sustainability) - utilise versatile learning environments - emphasise collaboration and communication - include meaningful pre and post learning opportunities
  2. Learning objectives

    are derived from the national curriculum - promote the development of 21st century skills - include aspects of knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and ethics
  3. Practitioners

    adopt/adapt aspects of participatory and experiential learning to learning experiences - are aware of surrounding prospective EOC locations and stakeholders locally - have a facilitating role, supporting students’ learning - use multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach where several teachers and different subjects are involved, if possible - understand the importance of adequately addressing health and safety procedures
  4. Students

    are involved in all phases of the EOC process, and own their work and learning - can influence the content, activities, and learning environment (student-centered approach)
  5. Assessment

    is versatile: student-student, student-teacher, teacher-student, teacher-teacher - is aligned with the objectives and embedded within the EOC process