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.
Dennis J. Osborne*, Douglas C. Sanders, Leigh Jay Hicks and Donna Petherbridge
Cynthia B. McKenney and Ellen B. Peffley
Teaching at a distance has many rewards and challenges inherent in its delivery. Interactive video conferencing has the advantages of having audio and visual contact with students during a set class period while having the disadvantages of scheduling multiple locations and keeping the equipment functioning at peak performance. Likewise, using a web platform such as WebCT provides a framework with excellent options to develop a course that is both audio and visually rich. This solution also presents its own difficulties as required textbooks change and the platform version may be upgraded. In this presentation, the advantages and disadvantages of both formats will be reviewed. In addition, helpful hints for blending these two teaching methods together to create a custom course will be discussed.
At the University of Georgia, HORT 3020 (Introduction to Fruit Crops) is a two-credit survey of the botanical characteristics, taxonomy, and production practices of the world's major fruit crops. It is offered via traditional classroom instruction, and as a distance education (DE) course through the University System of Georgia Independent Study program. The DE version of the course is designed to be identical in content, final exam, and grading scale. However, due to the nature of independent study, the end-of-topic evaluations are open-book, written assignments in the DE course, whereas students in the classroom version have closed-book quizzes at the end of each topic. Student performance in the two versions of the course was compared over a 3-year period (May 1998 to May 2001) by analyzing scores on end-of-topic evaluations, final exams, and overall course grades. Students in the DE version had higher scores on end-of-topic evaluations in all 3 years, higher scores on a comprehensive final exam in 2 of 3 years, and consequently higher overall course grades than classroom students in all 3 years. Better performance of DE over classroom students may have been related to 1) qualitative differences in end-of-topic evaluations (written assignments versus quizzes), 2) differences in student demographics (nontraditional students in DE, traditional undergraduates in classroom), 3) the elective (DE) versus required (classroom) nature of the courses, or 4) differences in course duration (1 year for DE, 15 weeks for classroom). Equal or better performance of DE students suggests that survey courses such as Introduction to Fruit Crops can be offered via distance education without compromising learning outcomes.
Rolston St. Hilaire
A World Wide Web course tool (WebCT) developed by the Univ. of British Columbia was used as an aid in teaching landscape plant identification and landscape construction at New Mexico State Univ. WebCT is a set of educational tools that are easily incorporated into the teaching of classes. Course assignments, slides of plant materials, and course grades were posted on the Web. A chat tool provided real-time communication among students and the electronic mail facility allowed personal communication with a student or communication to all course participants. Access to WebCT is controlled by username and password, so course material is restricted to course participants. Student progress through materials posted on the Web site can be monitored because WebCT maintains records about student access to web pages. Course statistics, such as the total number of hits per page, time spent on each Web page, and the date and time when student first accessed or last accessed the Web site, are kept by WebCT. Students were able to review highly visual material such as slides of landscape plants at their own pace. Also, students had quick access to their grades.
Allan M. Armitage
A teaching methodology was employed to use gardeners in the community to help in the teaching of a Herbaceous Perennial Plant Identification class (8 weeks, about 160 taxa). Most universities do not have a diverse collection of herbaceous perennials planted on campus, nor do most campuses have horticultural or botanical gardens for students. Teaching plant materials with photos alone or trying to force materials in the greenhouse is not only a horticultural challenge but seldom provides students with the important identification characteristics (habit, fragrance, fruit) of the taxon. Approximately six gardeners in the community agreed to open their private gardens to the students. Plants are evaluated 2 days before class time, and a list of plants is published on WebCT each week All gardens chosen must be within 15 minutes driving time from campus. Students were able to drive to the gardens, meet the gardeners and were exposed to the plants in garden setting. Potential problems of being unable to drive to gardens, or not being able to return to the gardens to study were not realized. Gardeners embraced the program and students were enriched by studying plants in a natural garden environment. The final examination is conducted in one of the gardens visited by the class. The use of gardeners in the community has been an important part of the class for 10 years.
Ellen B. Peffley, Kevin Lombard, Cynthia McKenney and Richard Durham
A plant propagation course was developed for delivery on the World Wide Web. Plant Propagation Methods is one of two foundation courses required of students with either a major or minor in horticulture. The course is accessed via the Texas Tech Univ. Horticulture website, www.pssc.ttu.edu. The delivery software is Web-CT Tutorial and access is password protected. The course has been offered two semesters, Fall 1999 and Spring 2000. Overall, student evaluations have been very favorable. The ratings for the first time offering were a 100% excellent rating was given for stimulating student interest and concepts pointed out; 67% excellent rating for effectiveness of the course, presents challenging ideas, stresses important points, uses visual materials, defines new terms, and provides an overview/objective. Students gave an overall rating of good for the organization of the course. The only negative response by the students was that they said the class was very hard because it was not in a structured classroom setting.
Karen Stoelzle Midden, Paul Henry and Amy Boren
Online courses are easily accessible and have the potential to attract and recruit a diversity of students. The instructors [also the principal investigators (PIs)] of an online certificate program in landscape horticulture have completed the first of a 3-year project in an effort to provide landscape horticulture courses, including an option for a certificate, to traditional and nontraditional students. The certification, consisting of 20 credit hours, will be the first of its type in Illinois offered by an institution of higher education. The program is aimed toward traditional college students who may need additional college credit, and nontraditional students who are pursuing certification out of interest in career goals or needing continuing education. The Chicago Botanic Garden, a cooperator in this project, has been a driving force for creation of this program and feels that there is a substantial demand among its clientele. It is being funded by the SIUC Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor Distance Learning Grant. Year one of this project focused on review and revision of curriculum material of six existing courses taught by the PIs. The PIs are working closely with the university's instructional support for the courses to be delivered by WebCT. To date, the “Appreciation of Landscape Design” course has received the most emphasis in the conversion. This poster session will summarize the project to date and projected benefits of this online program.
Ann Marie VanDerZanden and David R. Sandrock
Horticulture graduates entering the landscape industry will be faced with a multitude of complicated management decisions where they will need to integrate their understanding of plant science, site constraints, state and federal environmental regulations, and the human impact on the built landscape. To help students develop and refine their problem-solving skills, an interactive online case study was created. The case study was used in two different landscape horticulture courses at Iowa State University and Oregon State University. The case study centers on a residential backyard with eight landscape problem scenarios. Each scenario is identified on the clickable landscape map of the area and contains links to audio files, PDF documents, images, and Internet links. After investigating each scenario, students submit an analysis, diagnosis, and recommendation about the landscape problem via WebCT or Blackboard, depending on the institution. Student evaluation of the case study as a teaching tool was positive (3.5, where 1 = poor; 5 = excellent). Students answered additional questions using a scale where 1 = strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree. As a result of using this teaching tool, students felt that they were able to summarize the data (3.9), diagnose the landscape problem (3.9), and make a recommendation to the homeowner (3.6). Further, they felt this teaching tool was an effective way to deliver information (3.9); the interactive format aided their learning (3.7); that they were comfortable using a web-based format (4.2); and they liked learning using case studies (4.1). Our goal is to make the case-study framework available to other teaching colleagues who can then add their own data.
Cynthia B. McKenney, Ellen B. Peffley and Igino Teolis
undergraduate course. Forty-seven of the students experienced online instruction using the WebCT platform (CE 4.1; WebCT, Lynnfield, MA) and comprised two sections of the course. These students were located on and off campus, with no distinction being made to
Ann Marie VanDerZanden, David Sandrock and David Kopsell
resources. Course management programs such as WebCT (Blackboard Inc., Washington, DC) and other related software are making it easier and less expensive to create online problem-based learning scenarios for students. Literature cited Beidler, K. Iles, J