GEOG 101: World Regional Geography

Basic Course Information

Course Description

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 World Regional Geography provides an introduction to the discpline of geography, and an introduction to several world regions and their major geographic qualities. The course material includes both physical and human geography.

Learning Objectives

(Core objectives are in italics. These are objectives common to all Geog 101 courses, regardless of which faculty member teaches the courses, and whether it is online or classroom-based.)

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 A student who successfully completes Geog 101 should

  1. 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0
  2. Have an understanding of the discipline and most important sub-disciplines of geography, be familiar with its basic principles and concepts, and understand some simple geographic models and theories.
  3. Appreciate the value of looking at and understanding the world from a spatial perspective, and be able to recognize the connections and interactions present within culture and place;
  4. Appreciate the value of transcending parochialism, and trying to see the world (including one’s own country) as other people in other places and with different backgrounds might see it.
  5. Understand the connectedness of people and places, and the forces of globalization and localization.
  6. Be aware of the relationship between people and the natural environment and the subtle processes at work between nature and culture
  7. Have begun to learn how to learn independently, and should appreciate that education is a valuable and fulfilling lifelong process.
  8. Have an understanding the discipline and most important sub-disciplines of geography, be familiar with its basic principles and concepts, and understand some simple geographic models and theories.
  9. Have formulated an understanding of how the study of geography in general, and World Regional Geography in particular, fits into an education in the liberal arts and sciences.
  10. Be familiar with the regions of the world, their human and physical geographies, their histories, and the challenges they face.
  11. Have an understanding of the processes and consequences of economic development and underdevelopment.
  12. Be able to find, assess the reliability of, and interpret geographic data and information using a variety of print and online sources
  13. Be able to better understand what is going on in the world by seeing current events in their geographic context
  14. Be familiar with some of the advantages as well as the challenges of working collaboratively as a member of a group

Online Learning Environment Description

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 The course will begin with an introductory section, taught on the UMW campus in a conventional classroom setting. For the rest of the semester, instruction and interaction between students and me will be entirely online.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 1. Synchronous Environment.
Class will meet synchronously for one class meeting every week using a web conferencing application (probably Big Blue Button, accessible through Canvas.) A basic premise of this course is that students’ experience of learning about a foreign region will be enhanced by the fact that I will be teaching most of the sections of the course from the region we are discussing at the time. To the greatest extend possible, I will take advantage of my location to give students a sense of what each place is like (a central theme of the course), and I will invite guest speakers from some of the locations to join the class discussion.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 2. Asynchronous Environment.
A significant part of the course will rely on work students will do individually and collaboratively outside of the scheduled online class meetings.

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 2.1 Individual work will usually consist of online assignments. These will be open-book ‘geographic detective work’ exercises in which students figure out the answer to multiple choice questions posted on Canvas. Sometimes the answers will be in the text or other required reading (or viewing or listening.) Most questions, however, will require students to do some online research. A central objective of these assignments is that they are first and foremost learning experiences rather than assessment tools.

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 Students will also take a series of map quizzesm which will be based on a traditional closed-book teaching methods. In this initial offering of the cousre, when all students will be on campus, these quizzes will be at a set time and place, and will be supervised by various colleagues in the Geography Department.

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 2.2. Collborative online work.
The course will provide a number of different environments for students to work collaboratively and discuss the subject matter of the class.
2.2.1 The course blog. This will be the primary discussion forum for the class as a whole. Each week, I will post a topic for discussion, usually based on current events in the region under discussion. Students will then post comments, questions, and responses to my post and to each others’ comments. My posts will sometimes be in written form, and sometimes the will consist of short videos I have recorded in the course of my travels. I will encourage students to be imaginative not only in the content of their contributions to the discussion, but also in the media they use for them (video, audio, and photographic contributions will be welcome.
2.2.2 Group work. For pedagogic as well as practical reasons, students will work collaboratively as much as possible in this course. They will be required to prepare for class discussions in groups, discussing the readings together beforehand as a group, and presenting their collective group opinions and findings to the rest of the class during our synchronous meetings. I will encourage students to use Google Docs and Google Hangout for their collaborative work.
2.2.3 Informal and spontaneous interaction (using Twitter.) An important element of this course will be the sense of connection and immediacy that my presence in the region we are discussing will provide for students. I therefore plan to Tweet frequently, providing students with my observations and telling them about some experiences in the field.

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 2.3 Bringing in the world.
Since this is a course about places, people, and environments in different parts of the world, I hope to create a class environment in which people outside the class and, I hope, from around the world, will choose to participate. The blog will be open not only to students but to anyone who wishes to contribute to our discussion. My Twitter feed will also be open to anyone who wishes to follow it. I hope that this will draw in people from the regions we are studying; my hope is that their perspectives will add to the class in a way that neither the students nor I can do.


11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 Download the file

Value One: Community

Ideas for Building Community

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 Please see my response to the previous question.

Community and the Course Learning Objectives

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  2. Transcending parochialism (Objective #3) is an important objective of this course. Implicit in this is the idea that students should learn to try to see the world as other people see it, whether those others are members of the class, other Americans, or people in other parts of the world. Collaboration on group projects will help facilitate this within the class, and interaction with outsiders (in other parts of the world, I hope) on the blog will be invaluable.
  3. Appreciating the value of entertaining and engaging with viewpoints at odds with their own (#12). Students are often (sadly) reluctant to contradict or disagree with the opinions of an instructor, even if the instructor encourages such disagreement (as I do.) My hope is that by discussing issues among themselves, students will gain confidence in constructive argument, and come to appreciate the value of issues-based argument.

Value Two: Interactivity

Ideas for Building Interactivity

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 Group work and contributing to class discussions are an essential part of this course, and the assessment rubric reflects this. Simply put, without interaction and collaboration, students will not be able to earn a good grade in the course. That’s the stick.

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 The course also provides several carrots (aside from good grades.) First and most important is the creation of a space where students feel comfortable expressing their views (provided they substantiate them.) If students feel that their views are being respected, they will be more likely express them. For this reason, I will give strict guidelines on the kind of debate that is encouraged and the kinds of interaction that are unacceptable, and will moderate all comments from students and outsiders on the blog to ensure that they are adhered to. Second, I hope that the experience of constructive debate and the intellecual excitement it can create will provide students with an incentive to engage in discussion, not only in this class but in their lives outside of it.

Interactivity and the Course Learning Objectives

  1. 16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0
  2. Appreciate the value of entertaining and engaging with viewpoints at odds with their own (#12). This is simply not possible without interaction.
  3. Understand the connectedness of people and places (#4). It is possible to achieve this objective at an abstract level, and to understand it intellectually, by reading. But hearing from other people about their lives and their views adds a new dimension to this understanding. Three years ago I held my first-ever online class; I was in Guangzhou with three Chinese students, and my own students were in a classroom in Fredericksburg. The format was question-and-answer, and most of the questions came from my students, who were particuarly interested in knowing about student life and youth culture. Both Chinese and American students were surprised at the similarity of their experiences. At one point in the conversation, one of my students asked the Chinese students what they do on Saturday nights. One of the students (the occupant of the apartment where we were) got up, went across to a cabinet, and retrieved a bottle of Jack Daniels, which he held up to the camera. I think my students appreciated more about the globalization of cultures from this simple incident than from just about any other in the course.

Value Three: Active Learning

Ideas for Building Active Learning

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 Answered in the previous questions (unless i am missing something.)

Interactive Learning and the Course Learning Objectives

Answered in the previous questions (unless i am missing something.)

Value Four: Reflection

Ideas for Building Reflection

  1. 18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0
  2. Collaborative class preparation. In preparation for each synchronous class meeting, several groups of students will be responsible for putting together a short presentation based on the readings. They will have to discuss the topic amongst themselves, and come up with a joint presentation. This should promote both interaction among members of the group, and reflection by individuals within each group.
  3. Encouraging student contribution to discussion. Woody Allen famously remarked that eight percent of success is showing up. This will not be the case in this course. I will encourage students to express their views, and to ask questions, but I will emphasize that reflection and thought must precede any comment or question. Expressing an opinion is not enough; all opinions must be substantiated. I plan to be frank (in the kindest possible way, I hope) in responding to student comments and questions that demonstrate that they have not been preceded by reflection, and to respond in an encouraging way to those that demonstrate premeditation. at the outset of the course that There is no participation grade in this course. There is, however, a contribution grade.
  4. Feedback is essential. If I am teaching three sections of Geog 101 online, as I plan to do, individual feedback on all student comments will be impossible (just as it is this semester, Call 2011, when I have a similar number of students in conventional classes.) But I will make sure that I respond periodcially to each student who contributes to class discussions, and I will participate and repsond to issues raised in all discussions.

Reflection and the Course Learning Objectives

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 None of the twelve objectives listed in the course syllabus is possible without a degree of reflection. This course does not depend at all on memorization and regurgiation (the sole exception being the map quizzes, in which students will have to learn place names, a basic part of the vocabulary of regional geography.) Every question on every online assignment will require thought, inititaive, and judgement. All class discussion will be open and public; students will therefore know that there ideas and views will be seen by their peers, by outside participants in the class, and by me. This should provide a powerful incentive for reflection.

Value Five: Self-Directed Learning

Ideas for Self-Directed Learning

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 The individual assignments will be the primary means of promoting self-directed learning. Each assignment is first and foremost a learning experience, not a means of generating a grade. When I ask a factual question, students will need to do some research to find that fact, whether in the text, the readings, or elsewhere. I have used this approach for the past year in Geog 101, and it has worked very well.

Self-Directed Learning and the Course Learning Objectives

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 The primary objective of a college education, and of this courses, is to help students learn how to learn. This is more important than this course, and more important than geography. The main reason for studying just about every topic in this course is to give students the tools to recognize similar issues, and to use similar approaches, as they seek to understand the world in their other classes, and in life after graduation. I emphasize this at the beginning of all my courses, and I will certainly do so during the on-campus classroom meetings at the start of the course, as in the rest of the course.

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 Slef-directed learning is essential to achieving all of the objectives of the course.


Source: http://umwblogs.org/2011/11/28/geog-101-world-regional-geography/