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News: Ohio State ATI Expands Into Online Education, College Partnerships

Aug. 26, 2015

WOOSTER, Ohio — The Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute (ATI) is adding online teaching to its educational repertoire, beginning this autumn semester with a unique partnership with a northwest Ohio community college.

The two-year degree-granting institution of the university’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, Ohio State ATI is ranked No. 1 in the nation in the awarding of associate degrees in agriculture and related sciences.

Now, the institute is developing an online education program that seeks to expand Ohio State’s land-grant mission by engaging students where they are, beyond the traditional classroom and breaking down barriers between institutions.

“This is a way to expand the reach and mission of Ohio State ATI and the college, meeting the needs of students who are space and time bound, increasing enrollment off-site without the need to accommodate more students on campus and build new facilities, and addressing the needs of non-credit education through OSU Extension,” said Deana Namuth-Covert, who was hired last year as professor and director of online education and outreach for Ohio State ATI and the college.

The nascent program’s first crop will be harvested this fall through a partnership with Northwest State Community College (NSCC), located in the small Ohio farming community of Archbold.

Through this arrangement, Ohio State ATI will deliver crops and soil courses to NSCC students via the Adobe Connect platform, with students at both institutions taking the same course simultaneously.

“The local agricultural community asked NSCC to develop a degree program that covers crops, agronomy and also business,” said Jeanne Osborne, assistant director for academic affairs at Ohio State ATI. “They can cover the business side, but had dropped agriculture courses in the past.”

So Ohio State ATI worked with NSCC to create an Associate of Technical Studies degree, which will initially include 21 credit hours (about a third of the program) being offered by Ohio State ATI instructors. In the next phase of the program, Osborne said, the goal is to offer additional coursework so that students will graduate with degrees from both institutions, Osborne said.

“This is a great partnership because it enhances Ohio State’s statewide mission by reaching out to an agriculturally rich part of the state that needs our expertise,” Osborne said.

Namuth-Covert said this type of educational arrangement is particularly beneficial to students who are currently working in the industry, as they can apply what they are learning in the classroom right away in their jobs. “I’m really excited about this,” she said.

The program’s inaugural class consists of nine NSCC students taking Introduction to Soil Science, a course taught by Ohio State ATI instructor Don McConnell. While McConnell will deliver all lectures remotely, the course’s laboratory component will be handled by an NSCC instructor on site.

The online education program’s ultimate goal, Namuth-Covert said, is for Ohio State to be known as a global land-grant university where students can learn alongside others from various parts of the state, the country and potentially around the world — expanding their educational opportunities and their worldview without having to travel.

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