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USM Professors Develop Unique “Northern Forest Canoe Trail” Online Course

Most online university courses require a textbook and a computer. Students enrolled in a new University of Southern Maine summer online course will need a bit more than books. Recommended equipment includes a canoe or kayak, a GPS unit, a digital camera/phone/tablet/laptop, SPF 25 sunscreen and bug repellent.

The course, "Northern Forest Canoe Trail," requires students to spend 10 or more days canoeing or kayaking sections of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail between Old Forge, New York and Fort Kent, Maine. During those 10 or so days, students will assess tree growth, shoreline erosion, invasive water plants, and the like. There also are required readings and writings, as well as online discussions with other students and one or more of the three professors who will be teaching the course.

The class began Monday, June 30, and will conclude on Friday, August 15. The 10 days on the water need not be consecutive, nor are students required to complete a certain distance. The course description states, "Instead, participants set their own schedule, provide periodic on-line check-ins, and submit assignments designed to foster an experience that is contemplative and that builds independent learning skills."

A total of 6-8 students are signed up for the course. Professor of Environmental Science Rob Sanford is teaching the course along with Professor of Environmental Science Joe Staples and Professor of Psychology Elizabeth Vella.