Meeting Expectations of Relevance -- Staying Current in Today’s Learning Environment

Authors: Juliegh Bookout*, Michigan State University
Topics: Geography Education, Regional Geography, Higher Education
Keywords: education, online education, course design
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Today’s undergraduate students are nearly all digital natives, and have grown up in an age where YouTuber is a career path and news is delivered via Instagram and Twitter. Regardless of one’s opinions on this new normal, these students are a part of our community of learners and they have certain expectations of what a positive online learning experience should encompass.


Large, text-based lectures, high stakes exams, and comprehension-based essays were at one time mainstays of the Online Geography program (onGEO) at Michigan State University. This static and often cumbersome approach created online courses that were both difficult to manage and hard for students to get excited about. In response to what was being observed by instructors as well as student feedback, onGEO began to shift the focus of our courses toward more streamlined learning modules and assessments, as well as increased opportunities for experiential learning. This presentation will talk about the evolution of one of those Online Geography courses--GEO330: Geography of the U.S. & Canada--and the changes that have been made to keep it relevant for students in an ever-changing learning environment. Adaptable assessment design and strategies will also be discussed.

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