Teaching Geography in the 21st Century - Online course - Summary

08-13-2015 09:36 AM
Esri Notable Contributor
1 0 843

I just finished teaching a course this summer for educators, 5 weeks long, via www.enetlearning.org, a professional development organization for educators, entitled Teaching Geography in the 21st Century.  

I describe it here with video link and text:  http://blogs.esri.com/esri/gisedcom/2015/06/12/geography-summer-camp-online-5-week-geography-course/ and intro video here:


Platform:  Moodle, an open source Learning Management System.  ArcGIS Online worked very well in this LMS.

The course contained:

  • Subject matter:  population change, land use, climate and weather, natural hazards, business patterns, water, ecoregions, and demographics/lifestyles. 

  • Themes:  systems thinking, scale, critical thinking, inquiry, and problem-solving. 

  • 3-part objective:  developing core content knowledge, geographic skilsl including the use of geotechnologies, and developing the geographic / spatial perspective. 

  • Each week began with a few “local context” questions.  For example, in the unit on natural hazards, I asked the participants to think about a memorable natural hazard  that they had personally experienced, and to name the 3 most common natural hazards in their own community.

  • There were also additional discussions in a “water cooler” area of the course, such as about the ConnectEd program, how to teach current events using ArcGIS Online, and so on. 

  • At the end I included another discussion forum where the participants outlined their plan of how they would implement what they have learned (which I think is something key that needs to be included).

Reactions:   The 45 MAGNIFICENT participants in this course (mostly K-12 geography with some STEM educators; a few university level instructors, from all over the USA plus a few other countries) loved the hands-on work, the 3 part focus on content/skills/perspectives, the networking that the course offered, and in particular, ArcGIS Online!  

About the Author
I believe that spatial thinking can transform education and society through the application of Geographic Information Systems for instruction, research, administration, and policy. I hold 3 degrees in Geography, have served at NOAA, the US Census Bureau, and USGS as a cartographer and geographer, and teach a variety of F2F (Face to Face) (including T3G) and online courses. I have authored a variety of books and textbooks about the environment, STEM, GIS, and education. These include "Interpreting Our World", "Essentials of the Environment", "Tribal GIS", "The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data", "International Perspectives on Teaching and Learning with GIS In Secondary Education", "Spatial Mathematics" and others. I write for 2 blogs, 2 monthly podcasts, and a variety of journals, and have created over 5,000 videos on the Our Earth YouTube channel. Yet, as time passes, the more I realize my own limitations and that this is a lifelong learning endeavor and thus I actively seek mentors and collaborators.