In 2007, the OSU Extension Service and Educational Outreach, which includes Ecampus, PACE and EESC, joined forces and created the Division of University Outreach and Engagement. Provost Sabah Randhawa wanted to know what new initiatives are taking place as a result of the reorganization. After compiling a survey of 36 county Extension offices, Vice Provost Scott Reed reports on new initiatives in April’s First Monday Video. Hint: Extension offices are proctoring online exams, have established new community partnerships and programs, and are directing thousands of inquiring parents and students to OSU resources, filling the pipeline for new OSU Beavers. There’s more, too, but you’ll have to watch the video
Tell Scott what Extension innovations you see in the “Leave a Reply” section below. He looks forward to reading your comments.
The Division of Outreach and Engagement is playing the pivotal role in offering a free online permaculture design course. The development of the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) is a joint effort of Open Oregon State, Professional and Continuing Education (PACE), Ecampus and Extension and Experiment Station Communications (EESC). Very exciting!
So exciting, in fact, that more than 6,000 people already have registered for the four-week course (myself included). You are invited to register, as are your friends, family and community. Help spread the word. Registration is open now through May 1, and the course is May 2 through May 30.
Intro to Permaculture, is a public education project that will enable students worldwide to learn about and design sustainable landscapes and ecosystems in a highly interactive way. The course is designed to benefit everyone regardless of learning style, time commitments, or available technology. Expect to spend between two to four hours each week on coursework.
The course isn’t teaching specific techniques as much as a system and process of design.
Andrew Millison, instructor for OSU Department of Horticulture, is teaching the course. He’s been involved in permaculture practice, design and education for 20 years. He’s also founder of Permaculture Design International (PDI), a full service design and build firm specializing in custom ecosystem development.
What is Permaculture?
The PDI website says: “Permaculture is the art and science of designing [human] systems in harmony with Nature.” Said another way, courtesy of Permanent Culture Now, permaculture “is a design system that intentionally creates a harmonious integration of the natural landscape and people as a means of providing food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. It is also the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability and resilience that is found in natural ecosystems.”
The beauty of permaculture is that its principals can be applied to everything from home gardens to communities.
And the beauty of this course is that the learning experience will include video, images, animation, text, resource lists, links, and interactive activities. When students complete all of the interactive assignments and content quizzes, they will receive a ‘digital badge’ which verifies their participation.
“I’ve seen exponential growth in permaculture in recent years because it directly addresses many of the issues that are on people’s minds, such as climate change, food security and the alleviation of poverty,” Millison said. “Permaculture offers solutions to these issues, and this course gives people a way to make a positive impact.”
Who should take this course?
The course is for the novice and the professional alike, with no prior experience necessary (the class assumes no prior knowledge). For the person new to design and land stewardship, the course will provide a foundation from which to build upon with subsequent training, and introduce a new perspective that can be applied in many careers and facets of life.
For the gardener, farmer, nurseryman, architect, landscaper, land manager, developer, engineer, aid worker, planner or activist, the course provides a grounding in the permaculture process that can be applied to current endeavors.
Opportunities Exist to Collaborate on Educational Modules
Collaborating with Extension and on-campus faculty to develop learning modules and open textbooks is at the core of Open Oregon State’s activities. Open Oregon State was formed in 2013 to create online educational resources that can be accessed freely by students and teachers in digital media collections around the world. It is part of the Division of University Outreach and Engagement and falls under the umbrella of OSU Extended Campus.
[Note: Open Oregon State is different than OSU Open Campus, which is also part of the Division of Outreach and Engagement.]
Open Oregon State enhances learning experiences by incorporating emerging technologies.
“Early on, our multimedia developers and instructional designers created open modules in the agricultural sciences and STEM fields, some with dual-language functionality,” said Dianna Fisher, director of the unit. “Now we’re branching out and doing work with other colleges on campus and we are also working on projects with Oregon Community Colleges. We’re proud of the quality and creativity we bring to making knowledge accessible and learning engaging and effective.”
New Spanish language modules will help women start businesses, and a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) is being developed in collaboration with the department of Horticulture and Professional and Continuing Education (PACE), also part of the Division.
To experience the educational possibilities, check out this featured module:
This module explores water-related issues, current and future work to supply the water necessary for society, and offers an opportunity to hear from OSU experts.
Research shows a direct relationship between textbook costs and student success. Why? Textbooks can cost up to $1,200 a year for a full-time student, sometimes forcing students to choose between paying rent or buying food and buying a textbook.
The university’s open textbook initiative is a collaboration between OSU Libraries, OSU Press and Open Oregon State. It provides financial, technical and editorial support for faculty members to create texts that will be freely accessible online to any student in the world.
Open Oregon State has made impressive headway in developing free online textbooks. (Online textbooks are also available in low-cost print versions for essentially the cost of printing.) The inaugural textbook, “Living with Earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest,” is by Robert S. Yeats, a professor emeritus in OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. At least four more open textbooks are scheduled to be published by the end of 2016.
“Online textbooks do more than save students money,” said Dianna. “As new information and science emerges, online textbooks can be updated immediately. Multimedia elements can also be added to enhance the learning experience.”
To learn more about module and open textbook opportunities and requirements, click here. Open Oregon State offers funding of up to $2,000 to foster faculty participation in providing content and working with the development team to design and produce modules and short courses. Proposals are accepted and evaluated for funding once per term.
Funding for the unit comes from grants, the Division of Outreach and Engagement, Oregon State Ecampus and student fees. For more information about existing online educational resources or new opportunities with Open Oregon State, please contact: