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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.

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

Tech University ( Seiler et al., 2002 ) and at the University of Minnesota ( Anderson and Walker, 2003 ). In a case study, comparing conventional classroom instruction vs. distance learning for fruit crops at the University of Georgia, online students

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Kenneth W. Mudge and Kelly Hennigan

The role of cooperative extension in providing information to amateur and professional horticulturists is being profoundly altered by the availability of vast amounts of horticultural resources on the World Wide Web and other electronic media. Advances in computer-related instructional technologies including the Internet, have coincided with, and to some extent triggered, a burgeoning demand for non-traditional continuing education in practically all fields of knowledge, including landscape horticulture. Although there are numerous Web sites offering a wide range of gardening and related information, there are relatively few opportunities for structured learning in the form of on-line distance learning courses or instructional modules. In Fall 1999, we conducted a survey of the membership of the New York State Nursery/Landscape Association to determine priority-training needs that might be met by computer-mediated distance learning. One-hundred-seven companies, representing horticulture-based businesses throughout New York State, completed the surveys. Results from the survey indicated that 83% of those responding were interested in taking one or more computer-based distance learning course(s), that 67% were willing to provide financial support for continuing education of their employees, and that 95% have access to a personal computer. We have also collected data indicating subject matter preferences, interest in full-course and short-course offerings, levels of computer and Internet experience, and more. It is apparent from the findings in this study that the cooperative extension has a great opportunity to use the World Wide Web as a component of its role as an information provider. This research will contribute to designing effective approaches for teaching hands-on horticultural skills at a distance, thereby expanding the cooperative extension's ability to reach its intended audiences.

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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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John D. Lea-Cox, Ellen N. Varley, David S. Ross and K. Marc Teffeau

The State of Maryland Legislature enacted the Water Quality Improvement Act in 1998, which requires all agricultural operations to develop and implement nitrogen- and phosphorus-based nutrient management plans by December 2002. This legislation also mandates the education and training of professionals who will write nutrient management plans, and growers who will implement them. Maryland Cooperative Extension faculty have therefore been charged with developing effective educational programs that will enable nursery and greenhouse industry professionals to achieve these goals and ensure industry compliance with this legislation.

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S.L. Kitto, L. Griffiths, J. Pesek, E. Mackenzie and K. Bauer

In 1997, we added distance students to a traditional, classroom-taught biotechnology course. To reach distance students, we used a multimedia approach: lectures via videotapes and problem-based learning exercises (PBL) via the Internet. About a third of the course was taught using PBL. The major challenge of the course was to teach the PBL segments to distance and traditional students working in groups. We explored ways to use multimedia technology that would allow distance students to participate in the PBL segments of the course. To assess the effectiveness of the methods used in this project, we compared the distance students with traditional students using measures of perceived and actual knowledge of biotechnology. The student–student interactive PBL segments were challenging because the traditional students were working in “real time” and the distance students were working in “distance time.” Distance students did as well as in the course as traditional students; however, management of groups composed of distance and traditional students was challenging. PBL could probably be used more effectively and successfully with student groups composed solely of distance students.

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Jeffery K. Iles, Steven C. Padgitt, Peggy Petrzelka and Wendy K. Wintersteen

A survey was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of Iowa State University (ISU) extension programs and services to the turfgrass, nursery, and landscape plant installation and maintenance industries in Iowa. Completed questionnaires were received from 294 individuals (55% response rate). Respondents indicated they have a continuing need for pest identification and management information and that ISU extension is an important source for this information. In general, most respondents said quality of information provided by ISU extension was better than that offered by horticultural consultants or product suppliers; however, only 48% said extension was doing very well delivering programs and information in a timely manner. Demand for on-site visits with extension specialists was greater than that for distance learning opportunities, suggesting that extension must do a better job of marketing and making relatively new communication technologies palatable.

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Chris A. Martin and Jean C. Stutz

A distance learning course called Southwest Home Horticulture was developed and implemented at Arizona State University using video and Internet technologies to give nonhorticulture students an overview of urban horticulture in the southwestern United States. Fourteen, one-half-hour video programs about topics in southwestern residential landscaping, plants materials and landscape best-management practices were produced in ≈800 working hours. The video programs are now telecast weekly, each academic semester, on the regional public television station and the educational channel of several cable television systems. We found that students who enrolled in the course were most likely to tape the programs on a video cassette recorder and watch them at their own convenience, one to three times. A World Wide Web (Web) site on the Internet was developed as a supplement to the video programs. The Web site was organized into a modular format giving students quick access to auxiliary course-related information and helpful resources. When asked, ≈90% of the students indicated that the Web site was a helpful supplement to the video programs. Use of video and Internet technologies in tandem has enabled nonhorticulture major students to learn about home horticulture in an asynchronous or location and time independent fashion.

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

primary, endogenous, physiological dormancy ( Baskin and Baskin, 1998 ). Therefore, the purpose of this manuscript is to describe an easily performed laboratory experiment suitable for undergraduate courses (both on campus and for distance learning), which

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Lois Berg Stack

Five of the ten training sessions for Maine Master Gardeners (MGs) were taught using interactive television (ITV) in 1993. Trainees at one location participated in the sessions live; trainees at seven locations participated in the sessions from distant locations but in real time; and trainees at two locations viewed videotapes of the ITV sessions at later dates. Trainees (n = 215) were quizzed weekly to assess their level of learning and surveyed about their learning experience 6 months after completing their training. ITV distance learners' quiz scores and hours of volunteerism were equal to those of local learners. More than 90% of all respondents would enroll in a MG program again if it were conducted and taught locally, while 83.9% would enroll in a program taught half locally and half using ITV.