Results and Outcomes Related to the GEP Onl ine Extension Course
The curriculum we developed is a non-credit instruction program incorporating seven modules. It can be offered online and in a hybrid format for those who can come to a physical location for in-person instruction. In-person instruction is free, but the online format has a small cost associated with use. Some of the revenue collected for online instruction will flow back to this Extension program to help with capacity and improvement of the program materials.
The project provides a model for a multi-state collaboration in course development.
The GEP Course has embedded surveys to document impact throughout the course. Participants have access to pre- and post-tests directly related to learning objectives for each of the seven modules. The surveys are appropriate for all three teaching modalities — F2F, hybrid, and online. The Extension evaluation specialist on our team developed the survey using Qualtrics, a cloud-based platform, commonly used to compile participants’ responses. Our team will follow up with the part icipants six months after participants enroll in the course to gain a better understanding of the number of public and private acres they have mapped.
There were many lessons learned during this project.
We learned that the curriculum we create within the Extension Service must address a grassroots issue. The initial reason we developed the curriculum was to equip rangeland managers with the tools and skills needed to identify sage-grouse habitat and then either maintain or improve that area with the principles taught in our course. Design a course with the help of an instructional designer. While they may not be an expert in the content area, they do have educational training and a keen sense of overall flow and aesthetics. Very few extension professionals have formal educational training prior to their Extension position, and an instructional designer can help ensure the content flows well for participants. Storyboarding can be a valuable tool in curriculum development. Storyboarding helped our team by providing a process that guided curriculum development from beginning to end. Our team obtained a storyboarding template, which allowed team members to modify curriculum before it was implemented by the instructional designer. Reflection is an important part of any project. Our team developed a backward plan that helped us with reflection. Regular meetings also helped us reflect on progress and each individual’s important role in the overall effort.
If our team could redo things, there are a couple things that we would do differently.
First, we would identify and begin with an instructional designer. That individual is key to not only building the course but ensuring there is flow and an overarching theme in the course. In addition, the instructional designer can help identify the structure by which images, videos, storyboards, and any other files are to be organized.
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