Barriers to Teaching Introductory Physical Geography Online


Learning geography online is becoming an option for more students but not without controversy. Issues of faculty resources, logistics, professional recognition, and pedagogical concerns are cited as barriers to teaching online. Offering introductory physical geography online presents special challenges. As a general education course, an introductory physical geography course has a diverse population of students with disparate educational needs and goals that impacts its ability to be delivered online. Online learning is further complicated when lab courses require specialized laboratory equipment and fieldwork. A survey of geography departments in the United States was conducted to determine barriers to the deployment of introductory physical geography lab courses. Lack of faculty interest, faculty resources, and pedagogical concerns were found to be the most important barriers to deploying online physical geography lab courses.

Knowing the challenges faced by geography departments offering online courses provides insight into where valuable support services and resources can best be used to address them. Recent advances in blogging, podcasting, lecture capture, web conferencing, and augmented reality are offered as solutions to the concerns expressed by survey respondents.


Ritter, M. (2012) Barriers to Teaching Introductory Physical Geography OnlineReview of International Geographical Education Online © RIGEO Vol. 2, No. 1, March 2012


About Michael Ritter
Retired Professor of Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, science textbook author, educational technology blogger, podcaster, and freelance media consultant.

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