September 20, 2013

Manchin and Rockefeller Announce Nearly $535,000 for Online Science Courses at West Virginia State University

Training, research and development project will bring best online education practices to University

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller (both D-W.Va.) today announced that West Virginia State University will receive $533,674 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to fund a training, research and development project focused on expanding online biology and agriculture courses. The project plans to implement the best online teaching and learning practices and increase student success.

“Investments in workforce training and higher education are key to creating new jobs and attracting businesses and students to West Virginia,” Senator Manchin said. “This project will provide the West Virginia State University’s faculty, staff and students with advanced training and necessary upgrades to successfully administrate their online courses and programs.”

“West Virginia State University serves many students who are balancing work and classes, so the flexibility and accessibility of online learning supports their efforts toward earning a higher degree,” said Rockefeller. “The USDA’s investment in these online science courses offers students at State, working on majors in biology and agriculture, an innovative approach to completing their coursework. I’m so pleased to see another targeted investment in West Virginia’s students, particularly in these growing fields, that will offer them a path to become part of our state’s highly skilled and specialized workforce.” 

The project, “Learning and Teaching Biological and Agricultural Science Online: Success Through Comprehensive Training, Development, and Research,” outlined the following objectives:

• Objective 1: Train and assist Food and Agricultural Science and Biology faculty, Extension staff, and the Center for Online Learning constituents in pedagogical best practices for the development of interactive, media-rich, online and blended learning training courses.

• Objective 2: Develop an, accessible, media-rich online training program for students focusing on self-directed learning strategies for online environments, technological efficacy, realistic expectations, and motivation strategies

• Objective 3: Design a series of flipped Extension workshops in areas related to global food security

• Objective 4: Conduct educational research into the efficacy of virtual labs on actual lab proficiency and on flipped classroom methodologies as a method of promoting higher order thinking in Food and Agricultural Science areas

 Objective 5: Develop facility and production capacity to create, manage, and house media-rich, interactive blended and online courses through network and facilities upgrades; establishment of COL Multimedia Development Lab and Instructional Design Center; and creation of reciprocal agreements between COL and WVSU-ES's DigiSo Design Collaborative.