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Strategies for Teaching Field-Based Learning through Online Professional Development

Authors: Patrick Andrew Smith*, Texas State University, Thomas Barclay Larsen, Texas State University
Topics: Geography Education, Higher Education, Field Methods
Keywords: field-based learning, place-based education, online, distance, professional development
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Geography field trips require skillful planning to generate significant learning experiences in K-12 and higher education. At Texas State University, the authors created an online course, Field-Based Learning in Geography, to explore the ways in which distance education can inform teachers how to bring the field to their students. Course objectives and subject matter afforded the ability to draw connections among existing research, as well as produce various curriculum products that can be tested in future research. Bridging the divide between online professional development and field-based learning has direct implications for geography in education’s formal and informal realms. National Geographic, for example, offers numerous online courses that train a diverse network of educators to integrate exploration into the curriculum. Furthermore, many geography educators do not enjoy the privilege of packing their bags, moving to the nearest college town, and dirtying their boots with veteran geographers around the world’s most complex and captivating places. Online platforms may not deliver such an idealized experience to aspiring educators, but effective communication strategies can endow learners with agency to develop field trips on their own.

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