By Richard H. Miller, Global Campus
PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University Extension, known for a century of local in-person outreach, has partnered with WSU Global Campus to put its programs online.
“We have the content expertise,” said WSU Extension Director Rich Koenig. “The Global Campus has the delivery mechanism. Together we can give our programs life beyond the initial delivery, offer them in a consistent format and reach a huge new audience.”
The partnership is a natural evolution of WSU’s land-grant mission, said Global Campus Vice President Dave Cillay. “Extension and Global Campus reach beyond traditional campus borders,” he said. “This approach lets us build on each other’s strengths and increase public access to WSU faculty.”
Under the agreement, Global Campus and Extension will work on five projects at a time. When one project is launched, a new project will replace it in the pipeline, avoiding the need to negotiate new agreements.
The plan was signed last year. The first five online programs are scheduled to launch in the next few months. They are:
Belonging: Creating a Safe Environment for Youth and Adults. Focuses on preventing harassment, sexual harassment and bullying. It is required for Extension staff and volunteers, including those at 4-H, who work with youth. Extension has about 13,000 volunteers, Koenig said. About 8,000 of those work with youth and will need this training.
Enhancing Biological Control in Western Orchards. Helps tree fruit growers and pest management consultants reduce pesticide use by protecting pests’ natural enemies. This entails identifying these natural enemies, monitoring for them and changing the type or timing of pesticide applications.
There are more than 230,000 tree fruit acres in Washington state, said Ute Chambers of the Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee, Wash. The target audience is tree fruit growers, orchard managers and pest management consultants in Washington and Oregon, she said, but the course would be useful for anyone interested in biological control or tree fruit pest management.
LID Assessments. Provides testing and certification in low-impact development (LID) design, operations and maintenance to meet Washington stormwater permit requirements that go into effect December 2016 for medium-size communities. The regulations will affect a broad range of groups, including jurisdictions, municipalities, civil engineers and landscape professionals.
In the past year, the state has offered 65 classes in LID techniques to more than 1,600 people, said Kim Gridley, LID program manager at the Washington Stormwater Center. Historically, exam grading has been done by hand, a “very labor-intensive” process, she said. The new partnership will automate those assessments and certify as many as 400 participants in LID design and maintenance later this year.
Master Naturalist Training. Offers core courses in environmental education with site-specific electives on such topics as oceanography, lakes and lake systems, and stream ecology. The audience is Extension volunteers and staffers, volunteers at park districts and adult learners across the state – including up to 6,000 volunteers in the Puget Sound area, said Island County Extension Director Tim Lawrence. “It’s geared to be a statewide program that each county can adopt,” he said.
STEM mentor training. Trains science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professionals to work with K-12 youth in schools and other STEM programs. “We’re trying to build a bridge between industry professionals and youth,” Koenig said.
Engineers will learn how to support STEM learning, the basic elements of youth development, how to build rapport with students and teachers, behavior management and how to engage students in hands-on STEM activities. “We have received interest in this training from STEM programs nationwide,” said Martha Aitken, senior associate for Metropolitan Extension.
The new online programs will be linked from county Extension websites and hosted on the Global Campus Digital Academy site (http://skills.wsu.edu/), which offers non-credit professional development courses. Some content will be free; other programs will require nominal fees.
Extension programs are chosen for inclusion in the online program based on two main criteria, Koenig said. The curriculum should have already been delivered live and be ready to move online. And the program should lend itself to being multi-purposed and used statewide.
“By marrying these two key WSU resources, Extension and Global Campus, we get a more efficient platform to distribute information,” he said. “I’m all for it and I think the faculty are too.”
Richard H. Miller, WSU Global Campus, firstname.lastname@example.org