Online Learning at the University of Florida: Opportunities and Challenges by Samira Daroub

Dr. Samira Daroub, Professor, Soil and Water Sciences, University of Florida, delivered the lecture: Online Learning at the University of Florida: Opportunities and Challenges on May 28 at FAFS.


The talk explored popular online learning programs at the University of Florida focusing on environmental science and agroecology. Dr. Daroub also gave examples of undergraduate, graduate, and extension online education.​



Abstract:

Online learning offers many advantages including flexibility, comfortable learning environment, professional development opportunities and lower cost. The University of Florida offers nearly 200 online undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates to meet a growing demand in Florida and elsewhere in the world. Three distance education programs related to agriculture and environmental sciences were highlighted in the seminar. The Soil and Water Sciences Department offers fully online Master of Science -Environmental Science Track since 2002 and Master of Science-Agroecology Concentration since 2012. The UFOnline with 20 undergraduate programs started in 2014 and now ranks #5 in online programs in the US. Online education​ is also being successfully used in Extension for example Greenhouse training with non-credit classes offered online.  

A combination of technologies and media are used in online classes at UF and provide a learning environment rich in various forms of interaction with content and students. There is no difference in content and rigor between UF Online courses and other courses offered by UF. In many cases courses are exactly the same with a special online section designated for UF Online students. The UF also has Standards and Markers of Excellence to ensure quality of classes.

Finally, the seminar explored potential advantages of development of an online MS program and extension applications at FAFS. These advantages include expanding the education and extension outreach of AUB to national and regional universities, other organizations and stakeholders, and increase student enrollment. Online programs and classes can build capacity nationally and regionally in critical issues related to food security, climate change, water resources and quality. 


About the speaker: 

Dr. Daroub, Professor, Department of Soil and Water Sciences, University of Florida holds is a PhD in Soil Chemistry from Michigan State University and an MS in Soils from FAFS-AUB. She teaches soil, water, and environmental science classes via distance education. Daroub is a leader in the development of new and innovative approaches to online education and course delivery. Her research focus includes water quality issues and sustainability of agricultural production. Daroub has been a leader in the development and implementation of Best Management Practices in south Florida for profitable agriculture and good environmental stewardship.