Press Release

Graduand thinks ‘Outside the Box’ to deliver outdoor learning

Published on 4 June 2020

At a time when parents, carers and teachers are wrestling with how to best provide education during lockdown and the classroom restrictions to follow, a University of Dundee student has devised ways of delivering learning for young people outdoors.

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Outside the Box

At a time when parents, carers and teachers are wrestling with how to best provide education during lockdown and the classroom restrictions to follow, a University of Dundee student has devised ways of delivering learning for young people outdoors.

Digital Interaction Design graduand Christie Wilson, from Largs, created 'Outside of the Box' as part of her final year studies at the University’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design. The educational project uses a smartphone app and a physical ‘box kit’ to allow school pupils to engage their creativity and explore the outdoors while they are not learning together in school.

Christie (21) designed the kit to allow each pupil to create their own identity by building a box. The app suggests different walks and parks to visit around their hometown, and provides different challenges and tasks for the pupils to complete while they are photographing their box in situ.

Being outdoors is known to significantly improve health and wellbeing, but UK children spend little more than four hours a week outdoors on average, around half of the time their parents did when they were younger. In addition, 10% of respondents to a government study had not visited a natural environment such as a park, forest, or beach for at least a year. Christie is a passionate advocate of the benefits of spending time outdoors and her project promotes these as well as facilitating learning.

She is one of more than 300 students exhibiting at the Art, Design and Architecture Graduate Showcase 2020, an online display taking place in the absence of the annual Degree Show, which has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“In times when young people can't collectively learn and grow together, it has never been more important to keep communication going and ensure that every young person has similar learning experiences to if they were still in school,” said Christie.

“I came up with the idea last summer when I was working at a kids camp in Canada. It was really interesting to see them in this environment where they were really engaged in outdoors activities and not stuck on their phones all the time.

“The outdoors is a real interest of mine and I wanted to find some way of combining education with the physical and mental health benefits of getting outside. It’s not realistic to expect young people to suddenly give up on smartphones so we have to find ways of encouraging them to use them positively.

“I had originally conceived of the idea with teenagers in mind, but since lockdown started I’ve tweaked the project so younger children can take part as well with the help of their parents.”

The participants take photos of their box at each challenge location and are then able to see where their classmates have visited to create connections between one another and help each other to discover new locations. The leader board within the app shows the number of locations each pupil has explored, adding a competitive element to the challenge.

Christie will graduate from the University this summer and will start a postgraduate degree in Technological Education in the autumn. While Outside the Box has only been developed as a prototype for the moment, she is keen to take the project further when she qualifies as a teacher.

She continued, “I did placements at Craigie High School and Baldragon Academy in Dundee and speaking to the pupils gave me lots of insights into what young people are influenced by and one thing that came across clearly was how a challenge motivates them. That is why I included the leader board to enable them to compete with each other.

“I would definitely like to see how the project can be developed further and to incorporate it into my teaching because I really am passionate about getting young people learning outdoors.”

It is hoped that a physical exhibition of work from this year’s graduating students can be arranged in the future and the Graduate Showcase aims to provide them with the best possible platform for their talents in the meantime.

The launch of the Graduate Showcase will be broadcast live online on Friday 12 June to students, staff, families, friends and other visitors. The Showcase will be accompanied by a social media campaign that will run until 21 June.

It celebrates achievements of graduating students from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design and the department of Architecture within the School of Social Sciences. The work on display will represent the culmination of years of creative development and hard work, with the website featuring expanded information on all students, including extra images and video content.

The Art, Design and Architecture Graduate Showcase 2020 is available to view from June 12 at


Grant Hill

Press Officer

+44 (0)1382 384768

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DJCAD Degree Show