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Oregon State’s online degree in crop and soil science emphasizes advanced technologies

Students in OSU Ecampus crop science classes can access a virtual greenhouse and explore a 3D environment and discover distinguishing factors that can be used to identify specific plants.

By Tyler Hansen
March 7, 2019

Driven by forward-thinking instructors who teach using a slew of innovative technologies, Oregon State University this spring will begin offering a bachelor’s degree in crop and soil science 100 percent online.

The program will be the only one of its kind in the nation, and expects to reach an underserved audience of working professionals as well as place-bound students in rural areas who have limited access to higher education opportunities.

“We’re always on the lookout for new and improved ways to reach our distance students, regardless of where they reside – be that a big city with no access to soil like LA, or remote wilderness in Alaska,” said program lead Adam Lindsley, an instructor of crop and soil sciences in Oregon State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. “Our teaching techniques, materials and technology allow us to share the wealth of Oregon’s cropping systems and diverse soils.”

Delivered online by OSU Ecampus – the university’s nationally ranked online education provider – the program will provide students everywhere with real-world, field-based learning experiences that connect students with their local natural and agricultural environments.

Crop and soil science comes to life in 3D, virtual reality

Courses utilize custom lab kits, 3D printed soil models, virtual reality, augmented reality and other advanced technologies. Lindsley uses photogrammetry in his landscape analysis and soil morphology online courses to bring Oregon field visits home. His use of 3D printing solves the issue of soil structures breaking apart when lab kits were shipped to distance learners.

The online curriculum includes a class in crop ecology and morphology, which features a virtual greenhouse that creates a hands-on experience for a global audience of future crop and soil scientists.

“They’re able to go in at any point in time from anywhere in the world, access this virtual greenhouse, see what the plants look like, rotate them around so they can get into the nitty gritty identifying characteristics, and then be able to apply that out in the real world,” said the course’s instructor, Alyssa DuVal.

There is little education in crop and soil science available online, and Oregon State is a leader in the field. The program is expected to attract interest from industry employees and those at government agencies – such as the United States Department of Agriculture and its Natural Resources Conservation Service – who seek courses for professional development and advancement in their respective fields.

Spring classes at Oregon State begin April 1. Learn more about the online B.S. in Crop and Soil Sciences program.

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