Dennis Shannon1, Julie Howe1 and Leslie Cordie2, (1)Agronomy and Soils, Auburn University, Auburn, AL (2)College of Agriculture, Auburn University, Auburn, AL
The Department of Agronomy and Soils at Auburn University began offering distance education courses during the 2008/2009 academic year. In fall 2010, we began offering a distance education graduate degree program in Agronomy and Soils, which allows students to obtain a thesis and non-thesis Masters degrees. Distance education has enabled working professionals who cannot come to campus to take our courses and to obtain an advanced degree. It has also resulted in students enrolling in the program who might not normally study Agronomy. These have included patent and environmental lawyers, who are benefiting from better understanding the science related to their professions, as well as an investment banker seeking to change professions. Others have included employees of the Natural Resources Conservation Service who lack a Batchelor’s degree, and a doctoral student working at a remote location. Courses are offered asynchronously using Learning Management Systems on a website. Most lectures consist of Powerpoint lectures recorded in CourseCast or Camtasia. Video, computer simulations, spreadsheets and various other media are used for laboratory exercises. Only in a few cases are campus visits required. Student evaluations and testimonials have been very positive.