Free Educator Course on Geographic Thinking, National Geographic

Give your students a more complete understanding of the world and how it works. Enroll in our free, self-paced online course.

Geographic Thinking


When confronted with any issue, geographers ask three important questions:

  • Where is it?
  • Why is it there?
  • Why do we care?

Geographic thinking can be applied with learners at any age, in any situation. Geographers view the every issue through multiple perspectives and at multiple scales to gain a full understanding. This short, introductory course provides background for all formal and informal educators interested in bringing geographic thinking to their instruction.

This course is entirely self-paced and should take no more than 90 minutes to complete.

In this course, you will:

  • define and describe the human and natural lenses, perspectives, and scales that are central to geographic thinking across disciplines;
  • consider examples of how National Geographic Explorers and educators use geographic thinking;
  • develop a plan to integrate geographic thinking into your work with learners; and
  • reflect on your own learning and join a community of engaged and reflective educators

This course it divided into three parts:

  • Part 1: Thinking Like a Geographer – In this part you will learn more about how geographers think about the world and how the lenses geographers use to understand the world can be applied across disciplines. (25 minutes)
  • Part 2: Perspectives and Scales – In this part of the course, you will look more closely at two aspects of geographic thinking – perspective and scale – that can be applied to almost any issue or topic and deepen student analysis and understanding. (35 minutes)
  • Part 3: Putting it Together – In this part of the course, you will consider examples from other educators and begin planning to incorporate geographic thinking into your own instruction. You will also learn about ways to stay connected with other like-minded educators and National Geographic (30 minutes)

Click here to return to the full menu of online courses for educators.