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Keys to expanding online education beyond the campus: Ohio State’s Master in Plant Health Management

Monica Lewandowski: Ohio State Univ, Dept of Plant Pathology

<div>Ohio State’s Master in Plant Health Management (MPHM) program, administered by the Departments of Plant Pathology and Entomology, is a professional degree that was established to help meet a need for a robust and growing workforce with plant health expertise. The program is part of a trend in graduate education: professional and online degree programs tailored for working professionals. Established in 2012, the program currently has 25+ mostly non-traditional, part-time and online students. As we evaluate the program's first five years, our ability to adapt to a variety of student interests, provide individualized student advising, expand online course offerings, and relentlessly pursue collaboration opportunities have been keys to the program's growth. Flexibility in the curriculum helps us fit various backgrounds, including students with majors outside of plant health. To provide hands-on experience, we have built collaborations to help students pursue projects in new areas such as precision agriculture, urban farming, and pollinator health. We have also worked with university course designers to use course templates to convert material to online formats. Improvements in video recording and course management systems have helped make online courses more interactive, accessible and attractive to students. Employing students to assist online instructors has been mutually beneficial. We continue to explore opportunities to help pursue career goals.</div>