Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Residential week enhances learning experience



UCLan Outdoors students enjoy a range of activities designed to underpin their academic studies.

Through our link up with the Plas y Brenin, the National Mountain Sports Centre in North Wales, these activities provide practical, coaching and leadership skills which are designed to develop highly employable outdoor practitioners.

Jack Ricketts was one of a group of students who recently completed their second residential week at Plas y Brenin. Canoeing sessions were the focus of the trip, with the students having the opportunity to develop personal and technical skills such as perfecting different canoeing strokes. The group were also able to apply their academic learning in a real world environment.

Jack commented: "While these residential weeks are extremely fun and physically demanding, the hardest part is integrating the theory learned in lectures to the decision making processes and methods of teaching used by the instructors.

"The emphasis was placed on problem-based teaching. While the instructors gave us tasks to do without much explanation, we had to come up with a solution to solve the problem. An example of this was performing rescues.

"The instructors chose a safe spot for us to practise with little consequence in case anything went wrong, and as we progressed they changed one of three things - the environment, the individual or the task.

"As each of these things changed the other two became increasingly difficult and more problems were encountered. This is an example of the theory developed by Newell and Simon in their 1972 book 'Human Problem Solving', and is used by outdoor instructors on a daily basis."

To find out more about our partnership with Plas y Brenin please click here.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

UCLan Outdoors research included in national study

Research conducted by the UCLan Outdoors team has been used in a major national study.

'Getting Active Outdoors: A Study of Demography, Motivation, Participation and Provision in Outdoor Sport and Recreation in England' was commissioned by Sport England and produced in partnership with the Outdoor Industries Association.

It examines the demand and supply of outdoor provision and takes an in-depth look at the profile of the outdoor consumer.

The UCLan research, led by Dr Loel Collins, demonstrates how service providers operate across a range of delivery styles. The model demonstrates the relationship between coaching, instructing and guiding – and how a provider may deliver a blend of all three.

To view the study please click here.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

UCLan extends Plas y Brenin partnership

Students on our programmes will continue to enjoy practical sessions with the UK's top provider of outdoor adventure activities, following confirmation of an exciting partnership between UCLan and Plas y Brenin.

After a successful trial period the University has teamed up with the National Mountain Sports Centre in North Wales, where they will help deliver selected courses over the next three years.

Outdoor Leadership and Adventure Sports Coaching students will benefit from the expertise of UCLan and Plas y Brenin staff as they undertake a diverse range of modules.

These will develop their practical, coaching and leadership skills via a range of activities including mountaineering, rock climbing, white water kayaking, sea kayaking, mountain biking and canoeing.

UCLan's Institute of Coaching and Performance will also work closely with Plas y Brenin on research projects, including understanding the judgement and decision making processes of experts in adventure sports that will help to influence the future development of the outdoor profession over the next decade.

UCLan Outdoors Senior Lecturer Loel Collins said: "We're very excited be in a position to maintain our relationship with the National Mountain Sports Centre. It's a partnership that reinforces UCLan and Plas y Brenin as leaders in the field of development in this sector.

Dave Cheetham, Marketing Manager for Plas y Brenin, added: "We're over the moon to be working with UCLan's students and their staff, and we hope it will be a relationship that extends long into the future.

"UCLan is committed to helping its students achieve and surpass their goals, and to helping them convert their learning into rewarding careers in the outdoors. We're convinced Plas y Brenin can play a significant part in helping them do that.

"Alongside top-class coaching, world-class facilities and state-of-the-art-equipment, the students will also have the benefit of being immersed in the exciting and inspiring world of a National Sports Centre, surrounded by high performance athletes, coaches and enthusiasts all eager to help.

"They'll share time with many of the country's most successful climbers, paddlers and riders, and have the opportunity to communicate directly with decision makers from the governing bodies of those sports.

"With input from the best in the business at UCLan and Plas y Brenin, these students will enjoy the best foundation for a career in the outdoor industry."

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Outdoor congress attracts stellar line-up

This year's European Outdoor Summit (EOS2015) is shaping up to be an unmissable event, with an exciting line-up of motivational speakers, engaging break-out sessions and workshops already announced.

UCLan Outdoors Senior Lecturer Dr Mark Hickman has accepted an invitation to deliver a keynote speech at the conference, along with Professor Colin Beard of Sheffield Hallam University.

Dr Hickman will look at the need for a focused social gerontology of the outdoors to help understand how the ageing population uses adventure sports and outdoor activities, and how this impacts on the ageing process.

His presentation follows on from an appearance at the recent International Adventure Conference where Dr Hickman, along with colleagues Allison Inkster and Helen Hooper, delivered separate papers on the same subject.

Former UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg tops an impressive list of speakers, with Professor Greg Whyte from The Centre for Health & Human Performance and Public Health England's Health Dr Justin Varney also set to take part in the three-day event.

EOS2015 takes place at Sheffield Hallam University on 13-15 October. For more information please click here.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Outdoor experts accept conference invite

Dr Loel Collins (left) and Chris Eastabrook have been invited to take part in a showpiece national coaching event.

The UCLan Outdoors duo will deliver presentations at The British Canoeing Coach Conference 2015 to be held in Crewe later this year.

Themed 'The Multidimensional Role of a Coach', the event will bring together coaches from across the paddlesport disciplines to explore the different parts a coach plays in the development of their paddlers.

The conference takes place 21-22nd November - for further details please click here.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Staff tackle epic canoe challenge

UCLan Outdoors staff undertook an arduous canoe expedition in Northern Canada during August.

Loel Collins, Simon Allfree, Chris Eastabrook, Andy Hall and Karl Midlane encountered polar bears, beluga whales, moose, eagles and white water in a 700 mile, 23 day expedition up the South Indian Lake in Northern Manitoba via the Seal River system, to Churchill on the Hudson Bay coast.

They paddled, hauled, lined and portaged their fully-loaded canoes for three days before moving over the water shed, via the historic Keskamutinawok Portage, into the South Seal River.

After 10 days on the South Fork, a system of exposed lakes and difficult white water, the team reached the confluence with the North Seal and continued towards Hudson Bay.

The lower Seal drops north from the Canadian Shield, onto the Arctic tundra through a series of long and technically challenging rapids and massive lakes that lead to the coast. The team eventually entered the complex river delta before returning to Churchill Township.

UCLan Outdoors would like to thank Palm Equipment International and Equal Adventure - both long-standing research and innovation partners - and the Cree First Nation for their assistance.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Outdoors students deliver Welcome Week activities



UCLan Welcome Week saw huge numbers of students attending our Frontier Education courses across the Preston area.

Undergraduates from our Outdoor Leadership and Adventure Sports Coaching programmes gained valuable experience delivering team building and problem solving sessions.

Setting tasks and conducting reviews allowed the students to learn the value of feedback, become more confident asking for help or understanding a plan, and undertake a review cycle that will help them complete assignments and get to grips with their degree.

The students had the opportunity to work alongside our experienced associate staff, who are some of the leading practitioners in outdoor education. They offered assistance and allowed students to bounce ideas off them during and after each session.

In addition to gaining valuable work experience the sessions helped the students put into context the theory learned during lectures, thus improving their understanding whilst challenging existing ideas.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Top-up course proves popular choice

The Blended Outdoor Leadership top-up degree teaching team are looking forward to working with our new intake of students.

The part-time course, designed by practitioners for practitioners, is run by Helen Hooper, Rosemary Powell and Keith McGregor, and is delivered over an 18 month period.

Modules are taught one at a time, with each module having two weekends of teaching.

Recent graduate Danny Morgan highly recommends the programme: "It is a hugely varied and interesting course. The assignments are well spaced over the period of the course, meaning the workload never gets too high.

"Rosemary and Helen are very experienced, passionate and helpful lecturers who will get the best out of you."

If you are interested in joining us you can start in January or September, or simply do one module as CPD.

The modules include:
  • Leadership and Change
  • Sustainable Outdoor Practice
  • Performance Coaching
  • Personal Emotional and Social Development in Outdoor Activites
  • Conditioning for Adventure Sports
  • Single Research Project
For further information please email Rosemary Powell or Helen Hooper.

Friday, 11 September 2015

UCLan Outdoors team enjoy busy summer

The UCLan Outdoors team have had a hectic few weeks preparing for the new academic year.

In addition to taking part in the International Adventure Conference at Sheffield Hallam University and carrying out staff training in North Wales, the team have enjoyed a variety of experiences to further enhance their knowledge of the outdoors.

Rosemary Powell spent time canoeing and surfing on the west coast of Ireland, sailing at Rhosneigr in Wales and also pulling up an invasive species (Himalayan Balsam) on nature reserves.

Helen Hooper instructed cavers from South Wales Caving Club (SWCC) and Reading University Caving Club in Single Rope Technique (SRT) and rigging skills, and took part in a caving expedition to Dent de Crolles in the French Alps with SWCC.

Helen also conducted a research study with older females from North Yorkshire (aged 60 and above), looking at the benefits of exposure to new challenges in older adulthood.

Keith McGregor climbed the north face of the Piz Badile on the border between Switzerland and Italy. Tackling the mountain by the difficult Cassin VI+ route it took Keith 10 hours to reach the summit, but 12 hours to descend due to the complex nature of route finding.

He also travelled to the Dolomites in Italy to climb the north face of the Cima Grande, but had to abandon the attempt due to extreme cold weather conditions. Keith had better luck on the south east face of Tofana Di Rozes, reaching the summit and back in six hours.

Loel Collins had a more relaxing time, witnessing the Northern Lights, listening to Loons, paddling with whales and seeing the biggest land dwelling carnivore on the planet.

Chris Gunn visited Oberstdorf in Bavaria, enjoying a variety of outdoor and adventure sports, while Alli Inkster worked on a research project with sea kayakers looking at active ageing.

New team member Alice Mees led a group of teenagers on an expedition to Morocco where they successfully summited Mount Toubkal. She also spent a week working with the ASNI association, rebuilding damaged roads in the community and learning about traditional Berber culture.

With these new experiences under their belts, the team are now back on campus and ready to welcome new and returning students to UCLan.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Outdoors team bid to establish new research centre

The UCLan Outdoors Division is a highly research active section within the university, with staff conducting numerous activities, both nationally and internationally.

Senior Lecturer Dr Mark Hickman, in conjunction with colleagues Alli Inkster, Helen Hooper and Division Leader Nick Passenger, is currently working to establish UCLan as a recognised centre for research into active ageing in the outdoors.

The team are delivering a series of presentations at institutions across the UK, including Bucks New University, Northumbria University and Staffordshire University.

In September they will take part in the International Adventure Conference at Sheffield Hallam University. The event consistently attracts a worldwide delegation of leading academic researchers and industry professionals who carry out cutting edge adventure research, and who work in the adventure tourism and recreation industries.

This year's conference features leading adventurer Alastair Humphreys, Andrew Denton, CEO of Outdoor Industries Association and world champion mountain biker Steve Peat.

For more information about the event please click here.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Students enjoy European kayaking adventure

UCLan Outdoors students recently travelled to Europe to apply their academic learning in a 'real world' environment.

The group visited whitewater rivers in Slovenia and Germany to enhance their kayaking skills and gain a number of additional qualifications to boost their CVs.

Student Beth Wilson said the trip had provided the group with an invaluable insight into the outdoor environment.

"Our first alpine paddling experience was unreal," said Beth. "The scenery, the culture, the food, the crystal clear water and of course the kayaking. A week in Slovenia, finished off with two days in Germany, truly was amazing!"

The students paddled on three of Europe's most popular whitewater rivers, the Soča, Ammer and Rissbach, and also explored some of Slovenia's most iconic sights.

Beth added: "We not only did a vast amount of paddling, we were also able to enjoy the 'kayaking lifestyle', starting the day with coffee and finishing with ice cream - what could be better?

"We ventured into the Slovenian mountains to view the majestic Boka Waterfall, and spent a late afternoon rock jumping into the beautiful waters of the Soča.

"Our group also had the opportunity to gain qualifications whilst there, including whitewater safety and rescue training, and 3 star kayaking.

"The 36-hour minibus journey there and back was most definitely worthwhile - a return visit next year is definitely on the cards."

Please click here and here for video footage from the trip.

Monday, 8 June 2015

High praise for UCLan Outdoors graduates

Graduate employability is a key component of the UCLan Outdoors programme.

As well as developing an in-depth understanding of the practical, theoretical and contemporary issues within the industry, students are offered a variety of real-world learning experiences whilst studying at UCLan which greatly enhance their future career prospects.

High Adventure Outdoor Education Centre in Keighley have recognised these qualities during the past few years, offering roles to a number of our graduates.

Tim Ferguson, Director of High Adventure, said: "As an employer within the outdoor education industry it's very clear to see the difference between graduates from UCLan and all the others from across the UK.

"There's no comparison between UCLan and the rest in terms of the professionalism, experience and knowledge they possess. They are better prepared and have a greater ability to enter the world of work within the industry.

"UCLan graduates always have a significant amount of outdoor education experience, they are always vastly superior technicians, have far greater teaching, instructing and coaching abilities and give you a warm reassuring feeling they really comprehend the outdoor industry.

"I'm given 24 seasonal staff to work with every year, and without knowing anyone's background I can always guess which ones are the UCLan graduates. They are always more knowledgeable, already part or fully qualified in some of the 'hard ticket' activities and always stand out as the better instructors."

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Camera contest celebrates Preston’s Guild Wheel

Can you capture the Guild Wheel in all its glory on camera?

Thousands of walkers and cyclists who use the 21-mile greenway around Preston are being invited to use their artistic talents in a monthly photographic competition.

The Lancashire Evening Post want you to capture the beauty of the Wheel throughout the seasons – from the multi-coloured carpets of spring flowers, to the golden tones of summer, onto the reds and browns of autumn, through to the white frosts of winter.

In conjunction with the Guild Wheel User Group, a £50 prize will be offered for the best photograph submitted each month and the photo will appear in print.

By the end of the year the LEP should have 12 striking images showing the changing face of the Wheel as the seasons progress, which they hope will make up a very special calendar for 2016.

Please send your photos as JPEG attachments at least 1MB in size, to Iain Lynn, along with your name, address and phone number.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Scottish Winter Skills 2015



UCLan Outdoors undergraduates recently tackled the Scottish Winter Skills Enhancement course as part of their studies.

The group of 1st and 2nd year Outdoor Leadership and Adventure Sports Coaching students travelled to Scotland for a week of winter mountaineering.

To read their blog about the trip please click here. For images from the trip please click here.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Enhancement week develops practical knowledge

The UCLan Outdoors programme provides numerous opportunities to develop practical skills on top of our theoretical teaching.

Bex Farmer is currently in the second year of her Adventure Sports Coaching course, and recently enjoyed a variety of activities to help enhance her technical skills and leadership abilities.

This helps theory to inform practice and practice to inform research, which prepares students for their dissertations during year three.

Bex commented: "To continue our development we must get out there on our own, making our own decisions and mistakes. The enhancement weeks allow us to take advantage of a break in lectures to do this.

"I worked on my climbing skills at Stanage, logging the experience required for the Single Pitch Award. Taking the learning gained from instructional staff, meant I could safely go out in a peer group setting to develop decision making and practical skills, whilst ensuring good independent practice."

During the trip Bex practised setting up solid anchors, top belaying and lead climbing. She tested her knowledge against other students to share and develop ideas. Bex also visited UCLan Sports Arena to test her paddling skills and coaching capabilities ready for her Level 1 Coach Course.

"The canal provided us with a safe and appropriate environment to test my knowledge on several skills in both kayak and canoe and offer feedback to other students, so we met the pre-requisites required for Level 1," said Bex.

"This not only built our confidence, but gave us valuable preparation time for the course which I'm pleased to say I passed. This enhancement week allowed me to test my practical skills and knowledge in a range of different environments.

"These experiences aid my ability to gain industry-required National Governing Body qualifications that equip me to work as a professional in the outdoor sector, not only for when I graduate, but also for our summer breaks where we gain valuable experience in the sector."

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Outdoor Image module inspires students

A group of UCLan Outdoor students staged an exhibition of work from their final year 'Outdoor Image' module.

The event provided undergraduates with the opportunity to display and share their completed portfolios, final artworks and supporting chapters which showcased Pedagogies and Aesthetics in Outdoor Education.

Sculptures, paintings and a range of multi-media items were on show, all of which expressed forms of critical artistic comment.

The group explored topics including escapism and societal laziness, freedom and spirituality, and gender – perceptions of women in the outdoors.

Module leader Dr Clive Palmer said the students had produced some thought-provoking art about engagement, perception and identity with the Outdoors.

He commented: "Outdoor Image has been a tremendous success this year. The students relished opportunities to explain to other staff and students their philosophical ideas and what their comment to the world embodied in their tangible artist product.

"They've developed a high level of confidence and humility to question the rights and wrongs of society as they see it, achieved through the supportive stages of formative assessment towards the final presentation of their ideas.

"Process and product have married beautifully in this module and I'm very proud that their artistic and academic skills are a reflection of a pedagogy nurtured thinking, curiosity, but above all, enjoyment."

Student feedback for the module was extremely positive, with the group in agreement the assignment had allowed them to explore their creative sides.

Richard McCloy said: "I found the start of the module very challenging and difficult to understand, but once I found my way I soon became very passionate about my subject. It taught me to be prepared to think differently and not be afraid of any ideas you may have."

Abigail Law added: "Outdoor Image has given me the space and freedom to release and use my creativity where I wouldn't have otherwise been able to. I've been able to express myself through something different than just academic assignments – it has allowed me to shine."

To view a selection of images from the event please click here.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Students impress at showpiece Outdoor Conference

UCLan Outdoor students made a big impact at the recent Institute for Outdoor Learning (IOL) Northwest Conference 2015.

A group of 2nd and 3rd year undergraduates attended the event, presenting research ideas and dissertation data to expert audiences.

Feedback from the conference was extremely positive, with employers and practitioners praising the students for their exceptional skill levels, highly relevant work on reflective practice and professional development and their ability to show critical awareness across a challenging range of studies.

Tim Deighton, IOL Northern Region Professional Development Coordinator, said: "Our senior IOL Officers and conference attendees noted the quality of the research projects your students presented - their professionalism, knowledge and industry relevance.

"It was noticeable how engaged the IOL audience were with your students, many of whom are employers in the North West, and their feedback was outstanding – several of them specifically mentioned to me how great it was to have student input at this type of event.

"The research into older adults and their relationship to the outdoors was particularly well-received. This is a very pertinent subject and showed a development of the ideas that you and Professor Ashton of the Royal College of Public Health outlined at last year’s conference. You were all a great credit to UCLan."

Final year student Hannah Smith was attending her third IOL Conference, and has used the experience to develop dissertation ideas and boost her future career prospects.

She commented: "This event opened a pathway for me to publish a new theory I've created, with people there saying my research is relevant to undergraduate and postgraduate students at different universities across the country.

"I believe as ambassadors of UCLan we were helping shape discussion within workshops of theory and practice with high level managers or practitioners. Thanks for creating this opportunity to expand our opportunities above the undergraduate level, with the focus on high level research and careers.

Senior Lecturer Dr Mark Hickman said: "The quality of the students' research proposals was very high this year, and this reflects the hard work they invest in this project.

"It's very encouraging to see students engaging so knowledgeably and confidently with sector professionals and to receive such positive feedback. Once again, Allison Inkster played a pivotal role in making this a success, and I would like to extend my thanks from all concerned."

UCLan Outdoor Division are still hoping to host the Inaugural North West Higher Education Outdoor Students' Conference, possibly during 2015, with support from the IOL.

To view a selection of images from the event please click here.