This is an online class. There are no required trips to campus. There is no need to fight traffic, find a parking space, or worry about forgetting the umbrella. You can learn the material and take the quizzes/exam in the morning, with a cup of coffee and while still wearing your pajamas - or late at night, with a bottle of your favorite beverage in front of you.
Most of the course content will be on the Class Schedule on the Virginia Places website, with links to other resources on the Internet or GMU's Blackboard site accessed through MyMason. Each week, we will explore different maps and news articles related to specific Virginia places and/or geographic themes. You will be familiar with some topics (perhaps the impacts of sea level rise), while others might be outside your normal range of interest (perhaps Virginia's role during the French and Indian War).
Each week, videos will provide visual context so you can see more clearly what the instructor is babbling about. The longer videos produced by GMU-TV are nearly 15 years old. They won several awards in their day and are still useful, but pay attention to the "what's changed since the video was finished" updates in the weekly assignments.
There are plenty of opportunities to meet with the instructor in person. Take advantage of that access to get questions answered and confusion clarified, and to explore your ideas in more depth. The initial "get together" in August and monthly review-in-person opportunities will be on the Fairfax campus in Fall, 2016:
Required class interaction is primarily through e-mail with the instructor and blog posts on Blackboard, plus optional field trips and monthly review sessions. If you wish, you can have lots of personal interaction in this online course - or you can never see me or fellow students during the semester. Your choice...
Geography is a get-out-and-see-it exercise. This Geography of Virginia class is designed so you do not have the choice to just sit in one place and click your way to geo-wisdom about Virginia. There are 10 assigned field trips to examine places near where you live or work.
Site visit logistics are simple: you choose the time and place to visit, and you go when it is convenient to you. Be more than a tourist; be a student of the place you chose and examine the site as a Virginia geographer. Use the material in this class to enhance your understanding of what you are seeing, beyond the obvious, during the field trip. To earn credit, you will complete a short report to document each of your 10 field trips, plus a portfolio about that particular site at the end of the semester.
For additional interaction, there are three optional field trips and monthly in-person review sessions. These meetings offer an opportunity to get feedback on your site-specific research, to clarify your understanding of Virginia, to elaborate on your ideas, and to explore topics of particular interest in more depth.
You can come anytime in that period. Feel free to stop in, say hello, get a question or two answered, and then move on to the next event in your busy day - or spend up to 90 minutes talking about Virginia, if you have the time.
Exploratory Hall, Fairfax campus
Source: GMU Map
In addition, three half-day field trips are scheduled for the Fall, 2016 semester. These are OPTIONAL, but you can earn extra credit. The field trips provide an opportunity to go beyond being a tourist, and practice looking at Virginia places with the perspective of a geographer. You are welcome to brings friends/family on the field trips:
In addition, I am available almost every week to meet in person, on campus or at other more convenient locations. The course content is online, so there is great flexibility in when you choose to learn, but face-to-face discussion is also encouraged. Of course, if you prefer to chat online, that too is OK...