Interactive television was successfully used in the fall semester, 1997, to teach a graduate course on nutrition of horticultural plants to resident students at TAMU—College Station and distance education students at TAMU—Commerce, TAMU—Texarkana, and Tarleton State Univ. These campuses are connected with fiber-optic telephone lines, which constitutes the Trans-Texas Video Conference Network. This medium was used by county extension agents, who are working toward graduate degrees, to progress toward graduation and a higher salary. The lab portion of the course was taught on the College Station campus, but distance sites received only the lecture portion with an option to come to College Station in the summer to take the lab as a separate 1-hour, week-long course.
J. Benton Storey
Michael A. Arnold, Tim D. Davis, and David W. Reed
A group of 53 institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada offering degrees in horticulture, or closely related plant science degrees, was surveyed to determine various characteristics associated with the degree programs offered, demographics of students and faculty, and selected procedures and practices associated with administration of these graduate programs. Total response rate was 94%, yielding 85% usable completed surveys. Very few programs (0-3 per degree type) were offered via distance education and on average only 4.1% to 4.5% of resident instruction program students participated in distance education courses. Domestic students averaged 64% to 75% of enrollment. Students were 69% to 73% white. Asian students were the predominant minority group at 12% to 16% of enrollment, followed by African Americans (3% to 8%) and Hispanics (1% to 4%). Most institutions provided out-of-state tuition waivers (75%), and often in-state-tuition waivers (61%), to those students on assistantships or fellowships. Typical commitments to students were 3 years for a PhD and 2 years for a master's degree program. Research assistantships were the dominant form of assistance at all institutions (38% to 53% of students), while teaching assistantships contributed significant secondary funding (7% to 13%). With the exception of mean maximum fellowships, mean maximum assistantships ($11,499-$13,999) at non-1862 Morrill Act universities (NMAU) averaged near the mean minimums ($13,042-$14,566) for the corresponding assistantship types at 1862 Morrill Act universities (MAU). Requirements for teaching experience ranged from 41% of PhD programs to 18% of non-thesis master's degree programs. Typical departments contained 29 faculty members, of which 44% were full professors, 27% associate professors, 19% assistant professors, 6% junior or senior lecturers, and 3% were in other classifications. Traditional 12-month appointments (65.9% of faculty) were predominant at MAU. With the exception of junior lecturer positions, mean salaries at MAU averaged $9125, $6869, $8325, and $28,505 more for professor, associate professor, assistant professor, and senior lecturer, respectively, than at NMAU. This study provides useful information for departments undergoing external review or revision of graduate programs.
E. B. Poling
One of many forms of Distance Learning is “Interactive Video Teleconferencing” (IVT). I was an early user of interactive video for both course teaching and delivery of extension programs in small fruit production. But after 3 years of trying interactive video for delivery of an extension program, “Preplant Considerations for Strawberry Plasticulture Producers,” agents and growers have indicated a strong desire to discontinue the use of this medium in favor of truly “live” regional meetings for the 1996 season. Growers and many agents may have some anxiety about appearing “on TV,” and this leads to fewer questions and reduced audience participation levels when this extension meeting format is used. There is also the additional problem of finding funds to defray the costs associated with IVT programs. An evening broadcast of 2 hours to six university sites on the MCNC network in July 1994 led to charges of more than $700 to the program sponsor, the North Carolina Strawberry Association. Quality interactive video programs require considerable advance planning and program preparation. In cases where this medium is being used only infrequently by the specialist (one or two meetings each year), the audience is basically uncomfortable with the idea of “being on TV” and network costs are high. The advantages of a more traditional extension meeting format will likely outweigh the benefits of distance education via interactive video.
J. Benton Storey
The Trans Texas Video Conference Network (TTVN) has been linked to all Texas A&M Univ. campuses and most of the Regional Research and Extension Centers. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has funded an aggressive project of establishing TTVN class rooms in many departments across the College Station campus, including The Horticultural Science Dept. in 1997. The first two Hort courses taught were HORT 422 Citrus and Subtropical Fruits in Fall 1996 and HORT 418 Nut Culture in Spring 1997. This extended the class room 400 miles south to Weslaco, 300 miles north to Texarkana and Dallas, and 700 miles west to El Paso. Students at each site had video and audio interaction with the professor and with each other. Advantages included the availability of college credit courses to areas where this subject matter did not previously exist, which helps fulfill the Land-grant University Mission. Quality was maintained through lecture and lab outlines on Aggie Horticulture, the department's Web home page, term papers written to ASHS serial publicationspecifications, and rigorous examinations monitored by site facilitators. Lecture presentations were presented via Power Point, which took about twice as long to prepare than traditional overhead transparencies. Administrative problems remain, but will be solved when the requested Distance Education Registration Category is initiated so that subvention credit can be shared. The lecture portion of the graduate course, HORT 601 Nutrition of Horticultural Plants, will be taught in the fall semester 1997 at eight sites throughout the state.
Learning style preferences may impact the success of on-line students in distance education courses. In this study, students from four on-line courses voluntarily completed a modified learning styles assessment instrument. Students attaining a course average of 90% or greater were considered to have excelled in their respective course. The results from these learners were compared to those of students with lower course averages. It was determined the students that excelled in these on-line courses were visual learners that preferred more images and diagrams than textual references and instructions. This was confirmed by their choice of a map rather than written instructions to a new location when compared to their peers. In addition, they were more likely to prefer a class where they used visual skills rather than auditory skills than their peers. The high-performing students were also more likely to lose points on a timed test due to not reading the written information carefully, while their peers with lower course averages were more likely to run out of time on the test. Recognizing these learning style differences may allow faculty to design courses that better suit their on-line students.
Dennis J. Osborne*, Douglas C. Sanders, Leigh Jay Hicks, and Donna Petherbridge
The software package Macromedia Dreamweaver™ and learning management system WebCT™ are becoming de facto standards used to develop university distance education courses. NC State Univ. adopted these tools as part of its extensive support program for creating new distance courses, transforming existing classroom presentations into distance courses or upgrading existing distance courses. While production tools are becoming standardized, a “standard” course framework does not exist because most faculty believe that “no other course is like mine”. However, initial course placement online and course maintenance thereafter would be facilitated if a standardized course framework could be adopted and widely implemented. We developed such a framework, readily adaptable to many courses, by using the Libraries feature in Dreamweaver™ to create a model for easy navigation and standard course formatting for distance courses. Library items can be easily changed for use in different courses, and the entire framework can then be uploaded into WebCT™ for delivery to students. The model is used for several graduate level horticulture courses at NC State Univ.. Using this framework will allow any faculty member to easily fit his or her course into a replicable framework.
J.L. Green, D. Hannaway, J. Matylonek, A. Duncan, E. Liss, and K.J. Starr
HortBase, a global electronic information system to support horticultural decisions in classroom, distance education, life-long learning, and Extension, incorporates three innovative concepts: 1) Three-dimensional-team creation of individual electronic information files (subject, communications, and information science authors collaborating from start-to-fi nish to create the file). Team-creation respects, utilizes and develops professional strengths and resources of each team member. 2) Nation-wide, or even world-wide, distribution of the workload and costs of creation, review, revision, and distribution of the individual electronic information files, rather than redundant individual efforts and expenditures, enables us to do more as a group and to specialize individually. And, 3) National peer review by each file creators' professional society (ASHS, ACE, and ASIS respectively) enhances information quality, continued professional development of the authors, and wider acceptance and use of the information. Capabilities of electronic information systems facilitate, indeed require, this new approach to information development and delivery. For additional information, http://forages.css.orst.edu/HortBase/.
Karen L. Panter
Interest in horticulture in Wyoming increases each year. The vast size of the state, coupled with its low population, make travel to individual sites around the state difficult. Distance education and communication are keys to a successful horticulture Extension education program. Every summer since 2000, the University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service has sponsored a series of horticulture question and answer sessions. These sessions are carried out using the Wyoming compressed video system, linking campus-based specialists with Extension educators, Master Gardeners, industry, and occasionally the public, around the state. The number of sites linked with campus has varied from six to 11, depending on the year. The number of sessions held each summer has also varied, from the current six to a high of nine in 2000. Each session is 50 minutes long. The objective of these sessions is to allow personnel off-campus to show samples, ask questions, and get assistance from campus-based specialists in diagnosing various plant problems. Evaluations are done annually to determine several things: if the programs should be run again the next year, which days of the week and time of the day are best, if attendees are utilizing the information learned in the sessions, and if they feel more comfortable with their own diagnoses after the sessions. Responses vary with year, but typically 100% say the programs should continue, and greater than 75% use the information they learn and are more comfortable with their responses and their abilities to solve plant problems.
C. B. McKenney and D. L. Auld
With the current climate of consolidation in academia, maintaining viable discipline-oriented curricula requires concerted effort. In the past 8 years, the horticulture program at Texas Tech reduced the number of degree programs and faculty while it increased the course offerings available and quadrupled the enrollment in horticulture courses. This increase in productivity and program security came about through the efforts of the College and the Department. The designation of the Introductory Horticulture course as a core curriculum lab science elective dramatically raised enrollment. The introduction of horticulture as a minor within the College and across the University resulted in many of the horticulture courses being accessed by students previously not reached. In addition, efforts to create articulation agreements with and actively recruit students from 2- year institutions are beginning to show some success. The greatest future impact appears to be in the creation of mutually beneficial distance education alliances with other 2- and 4-year institutions. Areas of continued concern include balancing faculty teaching and research loads, frequency of upper level course offerings, and identifying large classroom facilities during peek hours. Support facility space utilization, pressing time constraints and “faculty burn-out” are also current problem areas associated with increased faculty productivity levels.
An assessment was conducted for our departmental internship class (HORT 2010) for 1999–2003. With rare exceptions, all students majoring in Horticulture must complete 3 credits of HORT 2010, based on 480 hours of approved work, reports, a seminar, and evaluations. The course is graded pass/fail. An internship requirement was added to the Landscape Contracting major in 2000–01. Enrollment in HORT 2010 was greatest among students in the Turf Management option (TURF) in 3 of 5 years. Over the 5-year period, females averaged 27% of the enrollment in HORT 2010, in part because there was only one female TURF student. The mode for earned hours completed just before the semester of enrollment in HORT 2010 was 97, thus classing the typical intern as a rising Senior. Only 8% of the interns failed to graduate. A total of 126 students interned at 109 different sites, with 70% interning within Oklahoma. Four Oklahoma employers accounted for 23% of all internship employment. Feedback has led to documented program improvements, e.g., `Bilingual Horticultural Communications' was made available on campus via distance education in Spring, 2001; `Turfgrass Integrated Pest Management' was created and added to the TURF option sheet for 2001-2002; and `Personnel and Financial Management for Horticulture' was created and approved in 2005. In a 2000 alumni survey, 100% of responding, employed Horticulture alumni (19 of 19) rated their internship as helpful. The program has worked well and has contributed to student success.