Hybrid teaching refers to course delivery through a blend of traditional, face-to-face teaching, along with online instruction outside of the classroom (Hino and Kahn, 2016). Incorporating online components can allow educators to reach a greater number of people and increase the amount of material their audience can access. It also allows for greater scheduling flexibility, which is often the biggest issue when the target audience is comprised of working adults. The role online tools play can range from partial, supplementary, online material, to courses that are delivered completely online.
The hybrid teaching approach has been on the rise on college and university campuses, and it is slowly beginning to be adopted in extension education programs (Durden et al., 2013; Francis, 2014; Friedl et al., 2015; Hino and Kahn, 2016; Norman, 2013; Schneider et al., 2011). However, Spanish-language opportunities delivered in a hybrid format are still rare or nonexistent, especially those appropriate for agricultural workers. This is despite the 63.5% increase in Oregon’s Hispanic population from 2000 to 2010 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2011). Previous extension work has demonstrated that reaching out to the Hispanic population often requires different approaches, even when reaching out in a traditional, face-to-face manner (Bauske et al., 2013; Delgadillo, 2003; Farner et al., 2005; Francis et al., 2014; Hobbs, 2004; Robinson et al., 2003; Warrix and Bocanegra, 1998; Woodson and Sgamma, 1997).
As part of our extension and outreach program, we offer workshops in Spanish to agricultural communities throughout the year on various plant health topics. A popular series of workshops among nursery and landscape members is offered annually every Thursday in October at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center. During Fall 2014, three traditional face-to-face workshops were offered in Spanish to support agriculture workers interested in obtaining the Oregon private pesticide applicator certification. The three pesticide training workshops filled quickly, registration closed early, and people were turned away, attesting to the high degree of industry demand for this type of training. This situation exemplifies the scarcity of appropriate learning opportunities for Hispanic agricultural workers.
Simultaneously, the demand for labor in Oregon nurseries continues to grow (Ruttan, 2016; Stone, 2016), including the demand for licensed pesticide applicators. However, low pass rates among the workforce continue to deprive the industry of an adequate pool of licensed workers. This results in a large demand for training opportunities to help workers prepare for the exam. With the continuing growth of the Hispanic population in Oregon, and their major contribution to the agricultural workforce, the need for efficient and flexible training opportunities becomes more acute. Trainings must be tailored to their needs and circumstances not only in the areas of technical, pesticide training but for other extension programs trying to reach a Hispanic audience.
The primary objective of this pilot, Private Pesticide Applicator Exam Preparation course was to assess whether delivery of educational material via a hybrid class would be a viable option for reaching Hispanic audiences by gauging participant ability to access online materials as well as their reception and acceptance of the course at its conclusion. Despite the challenge, it has historically posed, pesticide applicator training was chosen as the topic for this pilot program because of high demand. However, the principal interest was to assess reception of a hybrid course by Hispanic agricultural workers.
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