"Wilderness Navigation Workshop" to be Offered Online in February

The Mountaineers Board of Directors this year approved the development of the organization's first online courses, with "Wilderness Navigation" as the pilot. It will be offered in this alternative format beginning in February.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
December 20, 2015

Early in 2015, The Mountaineers Board of Directors identified two big goals for the organization -- re-examining it's rich and broad array of outdoor education and piloting some of it in an online format. The online pilot is in development and will be offered by several branches in the first part of 2016.

The first online courses will include a reworked edition of the Wilderness Navigation workshop, which was formerly called Basic Navigation, as well as a "trainer" course for navigation instructor volunteers. As with most of The Mountaineers' education, practice is required and the field-trip portion of this instruction will continue as it has.  Live workshops will also continue to be offered. But for students who might live someplace afar - Wenatchee, for example - or who just can't fight traffic across town on a weekday evening, the online workshop can be a good alternative.

The pilot will also address the community aspect of our instruction. While students can take the workshop at their own pace, an online forum in which they can post questions will be part of the course. There will also be real-time "office hours", where students can log into a collaborative Q&A to get more help from volunteer instructors and speak with other students.

The goals for the pilot are to serve students who may not live near a physical course location or who prefer to take the workshop at their own pace; to assist instructional volunteers with a fully vetted and packaged curriculum; and to make it easier to recruit instructional volunteers by letting them take the trainer course when it's convenient for them.

Navigation committee members spent a good part of 2015 looking at their curriculum in preparation for developing the online workshop. They asked:

  • What are the minimum outcomes we expect students to achieve from this course?
  • How can we organize our various navigation courses into a system of progressive skills development, from beginner to expert?
  • Does our training reflect the best-in-class instruction for this skill?


Using the Seattle branch workshop as a baseline and soliciting input from other branch navigation committees, the online pilot will deliver the same instruction as the live 2.5-hour workshop experience. When the online course opens in February, students may take it at their own pace and from any location using a PC or mobile device with an Internet connection. The field trip day will continue as an in-person experience where students will receive training with others in the outdoors.

At this time, Seattle, Tacoma, Kitsap, and Foothills branches have expressed a desire to offer the online workshop connected to their individual field trips. Registered students must complete the workshop before they can attend a field trip. Successful completion of both the workshop and field trip are required to graduate. Dates for registration may vary by branch. 

The pilot committee is working with an educational consultant and is still in the beginning stages of developing the online courses. A firm date for when the course will be open is expected to be available in mid-January. To learn more about the pilot, contact Doug Canfield, project manager,  , or Peter Hendrickson, Seattle Branch Chair, .