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William J. Sciarappa, Vivian Quinn, and Daniel L. Ward

larger class sizes, increase demand for classroom space and develop more transportation problems. Distance education offers an alternative solution to these logistical issues as well as an opportunity for expanded academic outreach through a university

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Milton E. Tignor, Sandra B. Wilson, Gene A. Giacomelli, Chieri Kubota, Efren Fitz-Rodriguez, Tracy A. Irani, Emily B. Rhoades, and Margaret J. McMahon

Russell (1999) compiled a large bibliography of research demonstrating that there is not a significant difference between standard and distance education learning. Yet rapid advances in the use of technology for the discipline of horticulture have

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Michael R. Evans, Richard Harkess, Jeff Kuehny, and Janet Cole

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Ellen T. Paparozzi and Kimberly A. Williams

Chat rooms and their use in everyday life are becoming increasingly common, and the technology may be a useful tool to link students with experts of a given subject material and each other. In our shared course Plant Nutrition and Nutrient Management, we experimented with using a chat room to link students with experts in the field of plant nutrition. Our main goal was to enhance the learning experience of the students by providing them with access to national and international plant nutrition researchers. Web CT was used to create and conduct the chat rooms and a chat etiquette evolved to prevent crosstalk and control the flow of the discussions. Positive outcomes of the chat room use included exposure of students to the technology and beneficial interaction between students and experts. Negative aspects of chat room use included the time involved to coordinate the overall effort and train experts to use the technology; the slow pace of some chats; effective grading; and the superficial coverage of some topics. We are developing modifications for future sessions to allow subjects to be explored in more depth and to improve networking between students and experts.

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Gerardo H. Nunez and Mariana Neves da Silva

Hands-on activities are an essential part of horticulture education. However, facilitating hands-on activities in online horticulture courses is challenging partly due to a lack of literature that describes remote laboratories in the discipline. Here we describe our experience planning and executing a remote strawberry-growing activity in an online horticulture course at the University of Florida, Gainesville. Students received strawberry-growing kits that contained a strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) plant, substrate, and fertilizer. Instructions on growing the strawberry plant were delivered online and students had to provide weekly updates about the status of their plant for 5 weeks. At the end of the semester, students provided feedback about the hands-on activity in the form of an essay. Their answers were analyzed using text mining to gauge their perception of the activity. About 77% of students expressed positive sentiments about the remote activity including excitement, enjoyment, and knowledge gain. Students who expressed negative sentiments about the activity (≈23% of the total) focused on plant casualties and difficulties related to management practices. Overall, student essays and weekly updates reflected a relevant and engaging cognitive exercise in horticulture. Our results suggest that remote laboratories can improve the student experience in online courses and provide a footprint for successful implementation of similar activities in online horticulture courses.

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Servet Caliskan, Sharon T. Kester, and Robert L. Geneve

appreciation for the interaction of these tissues related to seed dormancy. Laboratory exercise materials and methods This laboratory exercise can be performed as an on-campus activity or easily fit into a distance education format by mailing individual

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Amy N. Wright, James A. Robbins, and Mengmeng Gu

An online survey was conducted to gain information about nursery management and production (NMP) course content and enrollment, attitudes regarding the use of multimedia resources in the classroom, and opinions about the use of virtual field trips to supplement or replace traditional field trips. Results reflected current organizational and curriculum changes within colleges of agriculture that have impacted traditional horticulture courses such as NMP and in many cases have resulted in the merging of NMP courses with other courses such as greenhouse or garden center management. The number of departments with “horticulture” in the department name was similar to the number of departments with “plant science” in the department name (and not “horticulture”). The five topics covered most frequently included container production, container substrates, fertility, field production, and pot-in-pot production. Most of the respondents indicated that the NMP course in their department included at least one field trip. The top criteria used for selecting field trip locations included type of nursery, distance, innovation, reputation, and the number of aspects that could be viewed. Accessibility and distance to nurseries were listed as primary limitations for providing comprehensive field trips. Most respondents currently use multimedia resources in courses other than NMP, and a majority of respondents indicated that multimedia resources such as DVDs or web-based videos would be valuable for supplementing instruction in NMP, particularly for aspects not observed during field trips.

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Sandra B. Wilson and Helen E. Danielson

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Karen J. Jeannette and Mary Hockenberry Meyer

The effectiveness of Internet or online training was compared to traditional classroom training in the Master Gardener Core Course/Horticulture 1003 at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul. Overall horticultural knowledge was significantly greater for both groups in posttest results, and there was no significant difference in horticultural knowledge between the two groups. Online learners did not perceive the lack of instructor face-to-face interaction to be as important as did classroom participants. Online learners also placed a greater value on flexibility of class time and no commuting. Both groups spent approximately 75 hours on the class. However, 20% of classroom participants' time was commuting. Online training was an effective method for teaching Master Gardeners in this study.

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Sandra B. Wilson, Keona L. Muller, Judith A. Gersony, and Brian T. Scully