HortBase: Providing a Foundation for Distance Education

in HortScience
Author: Roger Kjelgren1
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  • 1 Utah State University, Department of Plant Soils and Biometeorology, Logan, UT 84322, e-mail kjel@mendel.usu.edu, telephone 801-797-2972

Technology allows educators to convey information more flexibly and visually. How to access and make use of technological teaching tools is the challenge facing educators. HortBase provides the framework for educators to create and access educational chunks. How to make use of the information in HortBase in distance teaching is a three-step process. 1) Before assembling the teaching material, the educator must decide on who the target audience is and what information to convey. Audiences on campus have higher expectations of how they learn, as they are used to live teaching and guidance, and often do not have a clear idea of what they want to learn. Off-campus audiences have lower expectations and are more focused on the information they want. 2) The educator then decides how much of the information to convert into digital form individually and how much to draw from elsewhere. Pieces of digitized information can be created by scanning existing images into the computer or created on computer with authoring-illustrating programs. Once digitized, images can be manipulated to get the desired look. This is a very time-consuming step, so much effort can be saved by taking created “chunks” from HortBase. 3) Finally, what medium and tools to use must be decided. Course content can be presented with slide-show software that incorporates digitized slides, drawings, animations, and video footage with text. Lectures can then be output to videotape or broadcast over an analog rework. Alternatively, the digitized information can be incorporated into interactive packages for CD-ROM or the World Wide Web.

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