Problem- and Planning-based Learning in Organic and Ecological Agroecosystems: An Eorganic and OSU Ecampus Partnership

Monday, July 22, 2013: 5:30 PM
Springs Salon A/B (Desert Springs J.W Marriott Resort )
Alexandra Stone , Horticulture, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Anita Nina Azarenko , Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Helen Atthowe , Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
eOrganic, the eXtension Community of Practice for organic agriculture, is partnering with the College of Agricultural Sciences (CAS), the Department of Horticulture, and the Graduate School at Oregon State University (OSU) in the development of an online curriculum in systems management of organic and ecological farms. The curriculum will be grounded in situation-based learning in which students learn from organic and ecological farming systems analyses, solve problems, and develop and evaluate management plans for organic and ecological farms.  Each farm system analysis will focus on one experienced farming operation, and will include: 1) a description of how the farmer employs systems thinking and planning; 2) a detailed examination of farm records; 3) descriptions and evaluations of effective systems (e.g. soil, insect/weed/disease pest, biodiversity, food safety) management strategies and programs; and 4) explorations of farm trends using existing farm-generated data, on-farm research data, and expert review. The curriculum will include training and problem-solving in systems management, pest (insect, disease, weed) management, soil management, biodiversity and wildlife management, food safety, economic viability, and interrelationships amongst these factors. Course materials will include whole farm case studies, articles, videos, narrated powerpoints/webinars, homework assignments, and quizzes/exams. All course materials will undergo eOrganic’s peer-refereed and NOP compliance review processes before publication at or  Each student will develop a detailed farming system management plan as his/her capstone project. Oregon State University’s Department of Horticulture will initially deliver the curriculum though an online non-thesis Master of Applied Science degree program (MAS) in Ecological and Organic Agriculture. The MAS is a new degree type at Oregon State University geared to better prepare students for careers in agricultural business, public/non-profit agricultural and natural resource professions, consulting, and farming.  In the future, the MAS program will expand to include other departments and farming systems (e.g. agronomic crops and livestock). The curriculum will also be delivered as certificate courses for farmers and agricultural professionals through eOrganic and the eXtension Moodle campus.