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.
Gerardo H. Nunez and Mariana Neves da Silva
Gerardo H. Nunez, Neil O. Anderson, Christopher S. Imler, Laura Irish, Chad T. Miller, and Mariana Neves da Silva
During the 2021 American Society for Horticultural Science annual conference, the Teaching Methods Professional Interest Group hosted the workshop “Going beyond Zoom: Tips and tricks for teaching horticulture online.” This workshop provided a forum for the dissemination of tools, materials, and approaches used to facilitate active learning in horticulture courses. Here we summarize the topics presented in the workshop as a resource for current and future horticulture instructors.