Oregon State University’s distance education program has been named the nation’s best online college in terms of value by ValueColleges.com, an organization that provides in-depth analysis and rankings on affordability and quality in higher education.
Oregon State Ecampus ranks first on a list of the Top 50 Best Value Online Colleges for 2017. The rankings assess online bachelor’s programs based on tuition costs, reputability, and return on investment using data from the website Payscale.com.
In its evaluation, the organization noted that Ecampus delivers the most online undergraduate major and minor programs in Oregon, and that OSU is a leader in STEM research and boasts the Carnegie Foundation’s highest research activity classification.
“This ranking speaks to our mission to provide learners with access to a high-quality Oregon State education,” said Ecampus Executive Director Lisa L. Templeton. “The value comes in the form of highly engaging programs that give our students opportunities for career advancement.”
All Ecampus students pay the same tuition rate no matter where they live. Ecampus serves adult learners in all 50 states and more than 40 countries by delivering 21 undergraduate degrees and 27 graduate programs online.
During the 2015-16 academic year, more than 19,000 OSU students took at least one Ecampus class.
Oregon State has developed a reputation as a leader in online education, having been ranked in the top 10 by U.S. News & World Report each of the past two years. In 2014, Ecampus won the Online Learning Consortium’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Development for Online Teaching – one of the industry’s most prestigious awards.
Every day I learn something new. Today I learned that Oregon State Ecampus launched a podcast on research literacy in higher education. The “Research in Action” podcast is hosted by Katie Linder, Ecampus research director.
(Ecampus is part of Extended Campus, which rolls up to Educational Outreach, and then to the Division of University Outreach and Engagement. The Division has a full and flourishing family tree!)
If asked, I would guess that the podcast focuses on research related to online learning. But no, its purpose is broader than that. “Research in Action” addresses topics and issues facing researchers across the nation with goals to increase research literacy and build community among researchers.
For those in the Division conducting research, there is much to learn and contribute. For those of us curious about the scientific process and research conducted at universities, accessible information is also available.
Podcasts are recorded and are available on the Ecampus Research Unit website and on iTunes, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.
“No researcher has all of the skills or expertise, and it’s incredibly valuable to have researchers come in with a diverse range of experiences and talk about these niche areas,” Linder said.
“Research in Action” has already published four episodes and has received more than 500 downloads. Over a dozen guests have been pre-recorded and more than 10 episodes are in production.
Upcoming “Research in Action” episodes include:
Jim Kroll, Office of the Inspector General, National Science Foundation, discussing research misconduct.
Nina Huntemann, researcher at edX, learning new research skills at mid-career.
Joshua Weller, psychology researcher from OSU, discussing psychometrics.
Written by Heather Turner, April 4, 2016, for Summer Session, Extended Campus —
Editor’s note: This post is about OSU’s Natural Resources Leadership Academy (NRLA), which is part of Summer Session. Summer Session is part of Extended Campus, which is part of the Division of University Outreach and Engagement. The NRLA brings together professionals and graduate students from across the world to learn from experts. Its hands-on education at its best for natural resources professionals.
Climate change is often a heated topic, no pun intended. Many have different ideas and beliefs, and sometimes the issue can cause a passionate debate.
John Matthews, however, isn’t interested in discussing whether or not climate change is real. His goal is to create a collaborative environment where people of diverse backgrounds work together to find sustainable solutions to climate change and climate adaptation.
“I believe this topic is important because it is the central problem of our time,” he says. “It’s a hard problem, it’s an important problem, it’s an ongoing problem, but it’s also a tractable problem.”
“This course is going to focus on sustainability as a moving target, especially the aspect of climate change and how we relate to ecosystems and to economics,” he says.
John’s track will be held during the second week of the NRLA, June 20-24, along with a track titled Environmental Water Transactions. Week 1 of the academy, held June 12-17, features three tracks: Natural Resources and Community Values, Collaborative Governance, and Water Conflict Management.
John was the ideal person to lead this track on resource management. He serves as secretariat coordinator and co-founder of the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA) – a global network of more than 800 professionals who are focused on mainstreaming the process of climate adaptation in their work.
“Having someone of John’s caliber and experience here at OSU is a real boon to the academy and to the campus community at large,” says NRLA Academic Director and Instructor Aaron Wolf. “He works globally at the highest levels and will bring vast expertise into the classroom. Moreover, given the structure of the academy, those interested in the tracks offered the first week can supplement their training with John’s track and vice versa.”
The track will use global case studies to approach climate adaptation from several perspectives, including how the eco-hydrological landscape responds to climate shifts, how built and managed aspects of the landscape interact with climate change, how a variety of institutions engage with non-stationary management, and how governance frameworks and management agreements encompass dynamic institutional and hydrological relationships.
“This is the time, this is the topic that young people really need to begin to consider what the implications are for their work going forward,” John says. “I cannot stress enough that our generation, the next generation, my great-grandchildren are really going to be worried about how is it that we respond to ongoing climate impacts.”
John, an aquatic ecologist, will be taking a holistic approach to his NRLA track, where he will co-teach with experts from a wide range of backgrounds, including an economist, an engineer and a geographer.
“No single discipline has all of the answers,” he says. “The state of the science is moving so rapidly now that if we’re not engaged in a full conversation between researchers, practitioners and the policy world, then we won’t come to an effective solution in time.”
Having completed postdoctoral studies at Oregon State almost a decade ago and living in Corvallis for 10 years, John is a neighbor, member of the community and now colleague at Oregon State.
“What I’m most looking forward to from the Natural Resources Leadership Academy is seeing not just our class working in isolation, developing its own insights by itself, but interacting with all of the other classes,” he says. “Having a broader conversation, a family of conversations that are coming together, feeding and building on each other.
“I hope participants come out of this class with a very positive attitude toward climate change. It’s something they can successfully integrate into their work and develop useful and sustainable solutions for.”
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.
Four health factors contribute to how long we live and how well we live according to County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.
Health outcomes are a snapshot of today’s community health. Health factors are a view to the future health of our communities.
HEALTH OUTCOMES: Length of Life, Quality of Life
HEALTH FACTORS: Health Behaviors,Clinical Care,Social & Economic Factors, Physical Environment
“The County Health Rankings illustrate what we know when it comes to what is making people sick or healthy. The Roadmaps shows what we can do to create healthier places to live, learn, work, and play,” states the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps website.
The Division of University Outreach and Engagement (Division) is positively impacting the future well-being of those living in Oregon by directly impacting its health factors.
Healthy People. Healthy Planet. Healthy Economy.
For seven years, the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program, has been an important tool for counties striving to build a culture of health. It’s a tool to benchmark community efforts and also to identify how investments in healthy living factors—or lack thereof—are changing health outcomes. Health factors and gaps are tracked annually for almost every county in the U.S.
The work being done by the Division makes a dramatic difference in the lives of Oregonians, from today’s youth to tomorrow entrepreneurs and farmers. A presence in every county in Oregon and responsiveness to local concerns magnify the Division’s impact.
Let’s take a closer look.
Moving from Awareness to Action
Using the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps model, how long and how well we live are impacted by four major health factors (80% of which are not related to healthcare): Health behaviors (30%), Clinical Care (20%), Social & Economic Factors (40%), and Physical Environment (10%). Programs and services offered through the Division of University Outreach and Engagement—Extension Service, Ecampus, and PACE—directly improve the factors and measurements that move the gauge on better living.
The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program offers an action model similar to our outreach and engagement work. The online action model provides guidance to move from awareness to community action; identifies effective, research-based policies and programs; and a coaching resource is available to advance a culture of health (Raquel Bournhonesque is the community coach located in Oregon and serving the Northwest).
Here are a few examples of how Division efforts correspond directly to the action model advocated by The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program (quotes are from the program website):
“Better educated individuals live longer, healthier lives than those with less education, and their children are more likely to thrive.” OSU Open Campus, Ecampus and PACE support this area of individual and community health.
“Lifelong health habits, such as good nutrition, physical fitness and stress management, are developed in childhood.” 4-H tackles this head-on.
“A county’s health greatly affects its economic competitiveness. Achieving lower health care costs, fewer sick days, and increased productivity are all critical to economic growth.” SNAP-Ed and Family Community Health are devoted to healthy living education.
“The Community Development sector…shares a common focus on improving low- and moderate-income communities.” Extension helps agriculture, marine fisheries and other industries improve productivity, safety, and profitability with research-based and community supported initiatives.
“State and local government officials can…identify the barriers to good health in their communities, and mobilize community leaders to take action – investing in programs and policy changes that help residents lead healthier lives.” OSU Extension works hand-in-hand with county commissioners and other community leaders to identify needs and develop programs to meet those needs. State and county funding ensures Extension is integral to state and county efforts to nurture healthy communities.
“Clean air and safe water are prerequisites for health.” Poor water quality sickens people, threatens wildlife, and diminishes recreational opportunities. Needless to say, OSU Extension is at the forefront of supporting healthy, sustainable environments.
And that’s just the tip of the Division’s programs and actions.
“The Rankings data are only as valuable as the action it inspires and the lives it improves,” said Bridget Catlin, PhD, MHSA, co-director of the County Health Rankings. “…targeting resources to the people and places in greatest need is essential to building a Culture of Health. The Rankings are an important springboard for conversations on how to expand opportunity for all to be healthy.” And the Division is at the heart of addressing the root causes of health risk factors in Oregon’s 36 counties.