DISTANCE EDUCATION FOR GRADUATE AND IN-SERVICE TRAINING FOR AGENTS

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  • 1 Department of Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7609

Many potential students, because of distance from the University campus and/or job requirements, cannot take traditional courses on-campus. This group of learners is place-bound—a group of learners who may be employed full-time, most-likely married with job responsibilities and/or other situations demanding most of their attention. These persons are the very definition of nontraditional, and their educational needs demand non-traditional pedagogy. Their maturity and self-directedness eliminate many concerns often voiced about extending support and evaluation inherent in maintaining quality for and among students adopting Distance Education (DE). In North Carolina, the audience is large and demands that the University reach out to them. Cooperative Extension's more than 120 Horticultural Crops Extension Agents (field faculty) and over 300 other field faculty whose interests include horticultural topics constitute students identifiable as likely enrollments for credit taking hours off-campus. Distance Education can overcome these problems in several ways. First, high demand, low-seat-available classes can offer additional enrollment for credit if open to Distance students. Second, courses can be offered asynchronously or with alternative delivery. Finally, courses offered collaboratively among institutions generate a level of interest and enthusiasm that may not exist for home-grown courses. Such efforts as these are creating a Distance Education program in NCSU's Horticultural Science Department.

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