Going Online: EE Professional Development Meets Educators Where They Are (February 2011)


Whether Julia Bair spends the next year volunteering on organic farms in Ireland, or teaching sea turtle ecology in Costa Rica, she will be able to keep up with her studies—as long as she has an Internet connection. Bair is among the first cadre of degree candidates accepted into the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point new online Master of Science in Environmental Education and Interpretation program.
Growing numbers of environmental educators are taking professional development online. They are using the Internet to offer courses, supplement in-person workshops, and creating vehicles that link networks of EE professionals. Online delivery can reduce workshop costs, reach large or rural populations, increase flexibility for audiences with severe time constraints, synch up with online college courses, and allow content to be divided into manageable segments.
Despite its appeal, the Internet is far from the top of educators’ list of professional development delivery vehicles. This article explores the current state of online EE professional development, and offers insights into barriers to, and opportunities for, shaping online learning that works for environmental educators.