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Gregory E. Welbaum

A distance learning homepage at: http://www.bsi.vt.edu/welbaum/hort4764/ was created to teach an introductory college-level course on vegetable crops to students at Virginia Tech. The course was created to serve students in the horticulture program at Virginia Beach, Va., students in the Commonwealth who cannot take classes on the Blacksburg campus, and students on the Blacksburg campus who could not schedule the classroom-based course. The course is not selfpaced, but directs students through 44 lessons on various topics including detailed descriptions of 28 different vegetables. The site is primarily in HTML format with archived student projects and old exams in PDF format. Audio clips are used to emphasis key information and to add a personal touch. There are >550 pictures and descriptions of vegetables and vegetable crop production linked to the website. Students can be examined using a computer testing system call Whizquiz that grades and corrects each exam. “Web Forum” software enables online discussion among students and the instructor. Discussion sessions have been successfully conducted between students and guests at distant locations. Links are provided to over 25 other websites with information on vegetable crops. The project was funded by a USDA/CSREES Higher Education Challenge Grant.

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Roger A. Hinson, Carl E. Motsenbocker, and John V. Westra

This is a horticulture case study of the export market for melons (Cucumis melo) from Central America to the United States. Melons have provided growers an excellent production and marketing opportunity since the early 1980s. “Off-season” shipments have changed from a consumer novelty to a commodity. The case documents how this producer entered the industry and became a dominant firm using a cost leadership strategy that included adopting advanced production technology and generating large sales volume to take advantage of its opportunity. As the product moved through the cycle from new product to mature market, there were changes in behavior by competing firms, a slowdown in growth of the markets, and reduced profits. Other management practices such as creating profit centers, using employee incentives at all levels, and outsourcing transportation and brokerage services were used to supplement the cost leader strategy. The development of the market and of the firm is documented, providing the basis for discussion of management and marketing issues in courses at the university level in horticulture and agribusiness.

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Douglas C Needham

172 WORKSHOP 28 Multimedia Computer Applications for Horticulture Teaching and Extension

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Albert (Bud) H. Markhart III

Oral Session 29—Teaching Methods Moderator: Marihelen Kamp-Glass 21 July 2005, 8:00–9:45 a.m. Room 107

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Curt R. Rom

To enhance the opportunities for students to access information and the instructors of a large, general plant science class, “Virtual Classroom” concepts using computers resources were implemented. The Virtual Classroom uses three computer resources: 1) a closed subscription LISTSERV for the extramural class discussions, 2) electronic mail for homework assignment and submission, and 3) a World Wide Web Internet homepage for the course. In a large, introductory-level class, student–teacher interaction can be limited. The size of the class and the content may inhibit questioning and discussion among the class participants. The LISTSERV allowed for questions to be posed by students at their leisure and facilitated discussion among students and the instructor outside of the confines of the class meeting. The LISTSERV also allowed instructors to to respond to the students by referring questions to “experts” on a particular subject. Using e-mail for homework assignment and submission was useful for tracking when student read assignments and submitted completed assignments. Electronic assignment grading and returning was paperless and easy for instructors to maintain. The homepage provided students with a permanent syllabus, lecture outlines, homework assignment descriptions, and study aids. Additionally, from the homepage students were able to send e-mail to instructors and search library databases and other electronic databases. Experiences from the instructors using these computer resources will be presented and discussed.

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Eric H. Simonne and Chad M. Hutchinson

Best management practices (BMPs) for vegetable crops are under development nationwide and in Florida. One goal of the Florida BMP program is to minimize the possible movement of nitrate-nitrogen from potato (Solanum tuberosum) production to surface water in the St. Johns River watershed without negatively impacting potato yields or quality. Current fertilizer BMPs developed for the area focus on fertilizer rate. Controlled-release fertilizers (CRF) have long been a part of nutrient management in greenhouse and nursery crops. However, CRFs have been seldom used in field-vegetable production because of their cost and release characteristics. Nutrient release curves for CRFs are not available for the soil moisture and temperature conditions prevailing in the seepage-irrigated soils of northern Florida. Controlled-leaching studies (pot-in-pot) in 2000 and 2001 have shown that plant-available nitrogen (N) was significantly higher early in the season from ammonium nitrate, calcium nitrate and urea compared to selected CRFs. However, N release from off-the-shelf and experimental CRFs was too slow, resulting in N recoveries ranging from 13% to 51%. Cost increase due to the use of CRFs for potato production ranged from $71.66 to $158.14/ha ($29 to $64 per acre) based on cost of material and N application rate. This higher cost may be offset by reduced application cost and cost-share pro-grams. Adoption of CRF programs by the potato (and vegetable) industry in Florida will depend on the accuracy and predictability of N release, state agencies' commitment to cost-share programs, and CRFs manufacturers' marketing strategies. All interested parties would benefit in the development of BMPs for CRFs.

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Martin R. McGann and Robert D. Berghage

The Pennsylvania State University Medieval Garden (PSMG) showcases varieties of medieval plants used as ornamentals, food crops, medicinal ingredients, and for household purposes in a stylized setting representing a medieval garden. Since its installation, various colleges within the university as well as community groups have used the garden as an alternative classroom for learning activities, educational demonstrations, and events related to the medieval period. This article focuses on the initial development of the garden design and how the installation and continued use as a classroom has contributed to meeting educational goals for students in the landscape contracting program at the Pennsylvania State University and the Pennsylvania Governor's School for Agricultural Sciences.

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Sarah E. Lineberger and Jayne M. Zajicek

Nutrition in the Garden is a garden program designed to help teachers integrate nutrition education into their classroom using a hands-on tool, the garden. The objectives of this research project were to 1) develop a garden activity guide to help teachers integrate nutrition education, specifically as it relates to fruit and vegetables, into their curricula, 2) evaluate whether students developed more positive attitudes towards fruit and vegetables by participating in the garden program, and 3) evaluate whether students developed better nutritional behavior by eating more fruit and vegetables after participating in the garden program. Students' nutritional attitudes regarding fruit and vegetables were measured with a fruit and vegetable preference questionnaire divided into three sections targeting vegetables, fruit, and fruit and vegetable snacks. Students' nutritional behaviors regarding fruit and vegetables were evaluated through 24-hour recall journals. After gardening, students' attitudes towards vegetables became significantly more positive. In contrast, no differences were detected in attitudes towards fruit. Students also had more positive attitudes towards fruit and vegetable snacks after gardening, with female students and younger students having the greatest improvement in snack attitude scores. Even though school gardening improved students' attitudes towards vegetables, fruit and vegetable consumption of students did not significantly improve due to gardening. Overall, the average daily fruit and vegetable consumption of the students participating in the Nutrition in the Garden study was 2.0 servings per day. This falls short of the estimated national average for daily fruit and vegetable consumption for this age group (3.4 servings) and extremely short of the nationally recommended 5.0 servings per day.

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Mark Rieger

At the University of Georgia, HORT 3020 (Introduction to Fruit Crops) is a two-credit survey of the botanical characteristics, taxonomy, and production practices of the world's major fruit crops. It is offered via traditional classroom instruction, and as a distance education (DE) course through the University System of Georgia Independent Study program. The DE version of the course is designed to be identical in content, final exam, and grading scale. However, due to the nature of independent study, the end-of-topic evaluations are open-book, written assignments in the DE course, whereas students in the classroom version have closed-book quizzes at the end of each topic. Student performance in the two versions of the course was compared over a 3-year period (May 1998 to May 2001) by analyzing scores on end-of-topic evaluations, final exams, and overall course grades. Students in the DE version had higher scores on end-of-topic evaluations in all 3 years, higher scores on a comprehensive final exam in 2 of 3 years, and consequently higher overall course grades than classroom students in all 3 years. Better performance of DE over classroom students may have been related to 1) qualitative differences in end-of-topic evaluations (written assignments versus quizzes), 2) differences in student demographics (nontraditional students in DE, traditional undergraduates in classroom), 3) the elective (DE) versus required (classroom) nature of the courses, or 4) differences in course duration (1 year for DE, 15 weeks for classroom). Equal or better performance of DE students suggests that survey courses such as Introduction to Fruit Crops can be offered via distance education without compromising learning outcomes.