Economics and logistics have greatly reduced or eliminated the ability of horticulture instructors to use field trips or on-site visits as educational tools. This is especially problematic in the field of greenhouse management and controlled environment agriculture, since the facilities and technologies used are essential to the discipline. To address this problem, we developed 15 DVD-based virtual field trips (VFT's) that instructors may use to demonstrate to students the most up-to-date facilities, technologies, and management strategies used in greenhouse management (ornamental and food crops) and controlled environment agriculture (GCEA). Each VFT included a preface with background information about the company, a tour organized by subject chapters, self-examination, and a teacher's guide with additional information and case studies. Each land-grant institution with an instructional program in greenhouse management of controlled-environment agriculture will be provided a free copy of each VFT, which will benefit all instructors of GCEA in the United States.
ePortfolios are gaining popularity in academic communities worldwide. Purposes of ePortfolios include: converting student work from paper to digital format, thereby allowing it to be centrally organized, searchable, and transportable throughout their academic lives and careers; promoting student centered learning and reflection; improving advising; and career planning and resume building. Pennsylvania State University is investing in the use of ePortfolios in course work throughout the university system. To facilitate these efforts, the university provides all students and faculty with 500 MB of hosted web space to create and share their portfolios. One of the courses using ePortfolios is Horticulture 120, Computer Applications for Landscape Contracting, in the Landscape Contracting program. Outcomes of implementing ePortfolios include increased availability of student work to potential employers, enhanced recruiting through displays of student work, and enabled reflection on completed work. Students showed improved quality in project work because their projects would be publicly available through the Internet to potential employers, faculty, family, and other students.
Research indicates that humor is an effective method to reinforce learning, yet humor is rarely used in horticultural textbooks. Use of humor in horticulture is easier than in many disciplines because humor dealing with plants is less likely to offend specific population segments since plants, not people, are usually the butt of the jokes. A large collection of plant humor has been assembled, including the following: Edward Lear's 32 line drawings of “Nonsense Botany”, e.g. Manypeeplia upsidonia; Gary Larson's macabre Far Side cartoons dealing with plants, e.g. the “Venus kidtrap”; periodic tables of vegetables and of fruits & nuts; Arcimboldo's Renaissance paintings of faces composed of flowers, vegetables, and plant parts and their modern imitations; Robert Wood's book, How to Tell the Birds From The Flowers, containing drawings and poems; Axel Erlandson's fantasticly grafted trees; plant movies like the two versions of Little Shop of Horrors, which is set in a flower shop; Joke Fountains of the Renaissance; and numerous cartoons from science periodicals.
Graduate students received training in total crop management (TCM) techniques including pest scouting and trapping, nutritional monitoring, and graphical tracking of crop height. In 1995, one student visited five greenhouse businesses biweekly during the poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd.) season to provide TCM training to one greenhouse employee per business. In 1996, a second student visited one greenhouse business every week during the poinsettia crop to conduct the TCM program for that business. The students benefited from the gained practical knowledge of greenhouse production techniques and TCM techniques, and they also benefited from the opportunity to visit commercial greenhouses and interact with staff throughout the production cycle for an entire crop. This program also provided the students with the opportunity to develop their teaching, communication and training skills. The participating growers benefited during this study from receiving useful production information and TCM training. An evaluation of the program conducted in 1998 indicated that four of the five participating businesses continue to use some TCM techniques, while two of the five have fully integrated the TCM program into their normal production routines.
During 1982, the Propagation Working Group (ASHS) conducted a survey on the content and organization of plant propagation courses. The survey, sent to 112 major colleges or universities, was composed of 4 sections: 1) general information, 2) course organization, 3) course content, and 4) evaluation. The following results were compiled from 28 completed forms.