Al So a d IWI I D Pbicat
FROM THE CHAIR
Delivery tModes 2
DE. Ho% to Track and Improve
Strengthening Agncultural and
Environmental Capacity 3
Soil Microbial Ecology REL
Blended IFace to Face and DE I
Teaching at Research and 4 The Soil and Water Science Department (SWSD) launched a Distance Education (DE) graduate
Education Centers program during Fall 2002, with two primary objectives: (1) to meet the needs of Soil and
Indo.U S. Collaborative Water Science faculty distributed across nine Research and Education Centers and the
Project on E-Leaming in Water 4 Gainesville campus, and (2) to meet the needs of place-bound students interested in the soil,
water, and environmental sciences program. At this time, the program is focused on
Pedology ,ia DE Challenges 5 environmental issues related to soil and water quality of agricultural lands, forested lands,
and Pleasant Surprnses rangelands, urban lands, and wetlands and aquatic systems. The program is designed for
EcoLearnlT Digital Repository 5 professionals including: extension agents, state and federal employees, and consultants,
of Reusable Learning Objects who want to pursue an academic career or enhance their knowledge in environmental
Forest and Soil Ecosystem 6 sciences. A hybrid PhD (mixed on-campus and DE) program complements our suite of
Services graduate degree offerings.
Online Soil Physics Laboratory 6
Faculty. Student. & Staff Ile' s 7 Our DE programs now attract students not only from Florida, but from several other states in
the US, as well as other countries around the world (Latin America and Africa). The current
DE Certificates 7 enrollment in this program is 51 MS and 4 PhD students. In addition, numerous non-degree
Don Graet: & Li-Tse Ou Retire 8 seeking students enroll in DE courses offered by the department.
EDITORS: The department uses the learning management system Blackboard/WebCT Vista and an in-
Susan Curry house developed toolset (SWS DE portal http://swsde.ifas.ufl.edu ) to deliver course
firstname.lastname@example.org material and provide access to various interactive tools (e.g. grade tool, access to digital
recordings, hyperlinks, and quizzes). Almost all DE courses are delivered via internet-based
Dr. SabineGrunwald technology. The SWSD now broadcasts departmental seminars to DE students using Adobe
Connect (Breeze Live). Some of the recorded seminars can be seen at:
Dr. Vimala Nair http://swsde.ifas.ufl.edu/.
The SWSD appreciates the contributions of Sabine Grunwald (as Coordinator of DE programs)
UF UNIVERSITY of and Brandon Hoover (providing technical know-how) for their efforts in keeping this program
U FLORIDA state-of-the-art. This program would not be as successful as it has been without their hard
IFAS (Continued on page 2)
The SWSD uses state-of-the-art electronic learning tools to bring the
classroom to your home. An "Online Education Portal" (Learning
Management System LMS) [http://swsde.ifas.ufl.edu] has been
developed to manage course content. Asynchronous (email and
message boards) and the Adobe Connect Live chat system are used
to emulate classroom settings, allowing students and instructors to
interact with each other. The SWSD was one of the first
departments at UF to introduce a live chat system into a DE
program (Summer 2005). Students and faculty embraced the chat
system that has also found use for extension training and connecting
Snapshot of recorded seminar.
Z I Internet -
Overview Adobe Connect online collaborative software.
Learning content is delivered using narrated Power Points,
streamed digital videos (e-recordings), online quizzes,
reading material, and more. Interactive online tools (e.g.
whiteboard and file/desktop sharing) are used to make
learning material alive. A virtual computer laboratory is used
to provide workspace for students to conduct assignments
and projects. We believe that it is a combination of
technologies, media, and styles using various forms of
interaction (interaction with people and content) helps to
enhance learning. For more information contact Brandon
Hoover at email@example.com or Sabine Grunwald at
(Continued from page 1)
work and dedication. We see a bright future for our DE program. Here are few examples of what we aim to accomplish in the
next few years:
* Improve our DE programs as new technology becomes available.
* Enhance DE graduate degree offerings with several online graduate certificate programs in Sustainable Land, Resource,
and Nutrient Management, Soil Ecosystem Services, Wetland and Water Resource Management.
* Offer a new MS track in Agroecology jointly with the Agronomy Department to accommodate the needs of ecology
oriented students (tentative launch: Fall 2008).
* Globalize our DE programs by attracting students from around the world. Focus areas include Latin America, Sub-Saharan
East Africa, and India. A network of hubs linking Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)
centers to UF has been established to facilitate the blending of research and online teaching activities.
* Feature a digital repository of Reusable Learning Objects (RLOs) called EcoLearnlT to be developed by the Department.
RLOs provide a digital educational resource that can be reused, scaled and shared from a central online repository in the
support of instruction and learning. EcoLearnlT can be viewed at: http://ecolearnit.ifas.ufl.edu/ .
* Strengthen our collaboration with international centers, such as International Crops Research Institute for Semi-arid
Tropics (ICRISAT), Hyderabad, India.
* Seek extramural funding to support this program.
The Department is committed to excellence in education and this newsletter showcases numerous exciting success stories on
teaching internet-based courses. Additional information on our DE programs can be found at:
Distance Education: How to Track and Improve Student Performance
Quality delivery of DE courses requires reliable hardware and software, and use of advanced technologies such as audio
and video aids, and web communications. However, equally important is how to track and improve the performance of
each individual student in the class. To engage students in class we use high-quality course materials, well designed
homework assignments, interesting and informative chat topics, and useful sample tests. However, homework and chat
sessions are probably the best windows for the instructor to know students' understanding of the course materials.
Homework assignments are critical for DE students serving to help and stimulate students to study and review the course
and reading materials. A more comprehensive homework should be designed that requires a good understanding of the
course and reading materials and critical thinking of the basic concepts and principles. For DE courses, a chat session is
like an in-class discussion forum and serves three major purposes: 1) to show how each individual student learns and
understands the course by asking questions and reviewing each student's response to questions and discussion topics; 2) to
answer questions from students related to each course chapter covered; and 3) to discuss the core concepts and principles
of studied chapterss. Therefore, a good design of chat session including navigation of chat and efficient use of time is a
great plus to the success of a DE course. For more information contact Zhenli He at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-4 Strengthening Agricultural and Environmental Capacity through Distance Education
A partnership was formed between UF, the International Center for Tropical
Agriculture (CIAT), and the International Crop Research Institute for the
Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). A pilot project has sponsored 4 students from
the University of Nairobi, Kenya and Makerere University, Uganda to earn a
degree in DE mode from the Soil and Water Science and Entomology
departments, UF. The aim is to bring education to Africa and allow students
to work on locally relevant research topics jointly with scientists from the
Consultative Group for International Agriculture Research (CGIAR) and UF.
Barriers to deliver courses in online mode to students in Africa were
identified as part of this pilot project (e.g. bandwidth limitations; access to
computers; limited access to synchronous class activities; etc.).
One of the students, Ben Fungo (Makerere University), investigates the causes of soil degradation and infertility on so-
called Lunnyu soils that are commonly found in Uganda. Several catenas are studied to gain a better understanding of
soil degradation and develop recommendations how to maintain soil fertility and protect soils from degradation. This
understanding is critical in Africa to improve livelihood and fight poverty. For more information about SAECDE contact
Dr. David Sammons (Director International Programs, IFAS) at email@example.com.
Soil Microbial Ecology Delivered Online
Soil Microbial Ecology (SOS 5305) is taught as a distance course every fall
semester, and the numbers of distance students enrolled have steadily increased.
The distance component is taught via the university's e-learning site, with course
material presented in a variety of media. Lectures are recorded and uploaded to
the site as Windows Media Player files, and slides are uploaded as both Adobe
presentations and as PDF files of PowerPoint handouts. Information on Labs is
supplemented with Adobe Presentations with audio and photographs taken during
labs. A text book is recommended, and supplemental readings are uploaded as
PDF files to the site. Weekly chat sessions are open to all students and provide an
opportunity for distance students to ask questions and review the previous week's
material. For more information contact Andy Ogram at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DISTANCE EDUCATION PAGE 4
Blended (Face to Face and Distance Education Teaching)
at Research and Education Centers
Two introductory soil science classes are offered through DE in support of the Masters of Environmental Science program
and Statewide CALS undergraduate programs. SOS 5050 "Soil Science for Environmental Professionals" is offered through
the web currently every Spring semester. The enrollment has increased exponentially in this excellent capstone course.
The class is popular not only among matriculated students but also among professionals, e.g. from state agencies taking the
class for continued learning and better job opportunities. The class has a comprehensive website on UF E-learning that
provides all lecture materials in narrated macromedia flash files, PDF handouts, HW assignments, online exams, and
additional resources. Live chats are done every week through ADOBE Connect that simulate a class room environment.
SOS 3022- Introduction to Soil Science in the Environment is offered through
polycom videoconferencing every spring semester to various UF Research and
Education Centers with website support. The class is offered in support of
State Wide CALS programs like Turfgrass Science, Environmental Horticulture,
Agricultural Education, Environmental Management, and Natural Resource
Conservation. The Laboratory part of the class is offered F2F (face-to-face) in
all participating centers with SWS faculty teaching the lab.
The two classes including some of the Lab instructors come together to
participate in a soil classification field trip in the Ft Pierce area. The field trip D b wh s l
Samira Daroub with several students
is an integral part of both classes and offers a much needed hands on for the DE participating in the soil classification
students. For additional information contact Samira Daroub at email@example.com. field trip at the Indian River REC.
Indo-U.S. Collaborative Project on E-Learning in Water Management
Numerous faculty from the University of Florida (Reddy, Grunwald, Staal, Daroub, Stanley, Alavalapati, Mylavarapu,
Haman, Bowen and Judge) are involved in the project "Information and Communication Technologies for Capacity Building
in Water Management India U.S. Collaborative Extension / Outreach and Distance Education" funded by the India U.S.
Agricultural Knowledge Initiative (AKI). A partnership was formed with the aim to develop a digital educational learning
grid between UF, international (International Crops Research Institute for the Semiarid Tropics ICRISAT; Commonwealth
of Learning COL), and Indian partners (Indian Council of Agricultural Research ICAR; Acharya N. G. Ranga Agricultural
University ANGRAU; Punjab Agricultural University PAU; and Tamil Nadu Agricultural University TNAU). Modern
information technologies in water management, including geographical information systems (GIS), remote sensing, and
internet-based education tools, provide efficient and cost-effective approaches for the assessment of water resources and
quality. The partners develop skills and collaborative digital learning resources to strengthen education and technical
training for extension and outreach to maximize the use of innovative tools focused on sustainable management of water
resources. A workshop on "Innovative E-Technologies for DE, Extension/Outreach in Efficient Water Management" was held
in Patancheru/Hyderabad, India (March 5-9, 2007) to prioritize region-specific water management issues in India that need
to be addressed. Various e-learning tools and experiences were shared among participants. Indian partners will visit the UF
in February 2008 and develop jointly e-learning materials based on the Reusable Learning Object (RLO) concept. The
individual and institutional capacity building will occur at U.S. and Indian academic institutions providing a platform for
sustainable education, extension and outreach that will foster globalization, knowledge sharing and awareness
building. For more information contact K. Ramesh Reddy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DISTANCE EDUCATION -
Environmental Pedology via Distance Education
Challenges and Pleasant Surprises
Pedology is a field science, so when I was first approached about
Soil profile, Florida teaching it via distance education I thought the prospect was
absurd. I eventually agreed to do it out of concern that it might
Soil-landscape of Kibera, Kenya
not otherwise be included in the DE curriculum. The only way I
Should incorporate a field component was to have students
describe, interpret, and compare soils on their own. I also assigned
the task of preparing presentations of their work to the class. I was
not optimistic about this. However, I did have some pleasant
surprises. I remember the first soil picture that I got from a
student in South Florida related to her initial soil assessment. I felt
Picture taken by a coastal exhilaration in that I could actually see her soil features (see
Flo ould list numerousda student who discovered
ensued for so from this soil ,n her backyard figure) and give her suggestions about how to proceed. I
Kenyan student tn the process of describing one that her lot was on a filled
of her s ils wetland The brighter higherr subsequently of stde othatin students were tenaciousnt
chroma) fill color contrast with discovered and
th Florida, Floridasen t resourceful in fulfilling their field requirements, and that their
deposited over fill reports were enlightening to me as well as other students.
I could list numerous disadvantages of students not being able to attend on-campus field tabs. These need to be
compensated for in some way. However, there are also advantages to the operantt conditioning" students undergo in
actively pursuing their field soil quest; you tend to remember things you ferret out yourself. Another advantage is the
rich variety of soils and soil issues that arise from the wide range of student locations, including (so far) Vermont,
Colombia, Uganda, Kenya, South Florida, Florida Panhandle, and REALLY foreign places like Georgia. I could NEVER
provide this range of soil images from near-campus sites. Distance education requires a lot of commitment from
students for it to work. So far, I have been gratified by the commitment I've seen. For more information contact Willie
Harris at email@example.com.
SEcoLearnlT Digital Repository of Reusable Learning Objects (RLOs)
Reusable Learning Objects (RLOs) are e-materials that can be reused, scaled and
shared from a central online repository in the support of instruction and
learning. RLOs may be used in multiple contexts for multiple purposes and at
multiple times, and can be grouped into larger collections of content including
traditional course structures or learning management systems. A digital
framework EcoLearnlT has been developed that provides authoring tools and
access to RLOs focused on the themes soil, water, and climate. EcoLearnlT
facilitates learning at different levels ranging from simple to complex knowledge
encapsulated into different types of RLOs targeting various learning audiences
(graduate, undergraduate, shortcourses/certificates, extension/outreach, and
Recently, communication scientists have observed the phenomenon of t
communication/learning where students/learners participate in populating and
developing learning materials. This concept blends with the ongoing migration of
the Internet to the second generation Internet (Web 2.0) where online material is generated by user communities (e.g.
Wikipedia). Our RLO-based digital repository EcoLearnlT supports this different way of learning that engages students,
learners, faculty, scientists and instructors. A peer-review panel ensures that only high quality learning objects are
included in the digital repository (online journal). Students can develop RLOs and earn teaching/service credits. Faculty
and others contributing RLO to EcoLearnlT are acknowledged similar to a peer-reviewed research publication. EcoLearnlT is
an open-access educational system. For more information about EcoLearnlT or RLOs contact Sabine Grunwald at
g~. ,m~a rij~~, p
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+1 DISTANCE EDUCATION
Forest and Soil Ecosystem Services
Marcela Quintero is a MS student and a full time employee of International Center for
Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia. While doing her distance degree she has
been working in a variety of projects related to the valuation of ecosystem services.
Her research is investigating the carbon sequestration as an ecosystem service as well
as the role it plays in maintaining soil structure and preventing erosion. She expects
to graduate in the spring of 2008.
A new distance course is being developed in
the area of Forest and Soil Ecosystem
Services and will be offered for the first time in the fall of 2008. This is the -
foundation course for a certificate program based on a study abroad experience
between the USA and Brazil that is open to both undergraduate and graduate
students. The course will be offered in a DE format and taught by an
international team of scientists from four universities in the US (UF, University
of Georgia-Athens, NC State University, and the State University of New York-
Environmental Science and Forestry) and three universities in Brazil (The
Federal Universities of Vicosa, Parana and Tocantins). This foundation course
combined with course work in both countries (at least 6 credit hours will be taken by US students in Brazil and vice
versa) completes a 12 h certificate in Forest and Soil Ecosystem Services. The program is funded by the US Department
of Education and its sister organization in Brazil. For more information contact Nicholas Comerford at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Online Soil Physics Laboratory
The DE section of SOS 5605C Soil Physics has been taught every fall semester since 2004. At first I was very much
concerned about DE students not being able to participate directly in the laboratory component of the course. This
concern has now been addressed. All laboratory experiments have been video taped and uploaded on the website for the
course. DVDs have also been made for each Lab experiment that are sent to students overseas. Such students cannot
easily view the Lab videos due to bad/poor internet connections or power failures. DE students are sent data collected
by on-campus students for a given Lab experiment. At the beginning of the course DE students are sent a laboratory
manual with instructions as to how to write up the Lab assignments. From my experience DE students do a good job of
writing up the Lab assignments as on-campus students. On-campus students also review the Lab videos before the
experiments are carried out. In addition, all lectures for the course have been video taped and uploaded on the website.
All students can view the lectures before they are given. A Power Point presentation of all lectures is also posted on the
website. All students are also provided with a handout of all lectures and past exams. I am more than convinced that
offering DE section of the course has been beneficial to me as a teacher and to the students from far away places like
Alaska and Uganda who would otherwise not be able to take a similar course at their home institutions or do field
experiments of water movement when the soil is completely covered with snow. This semester I have more DE students
in the course than on-campus students. During the first mid-term this fall, DE students on the average, have performed
better in the course than on-campus students. All DE students have participated in the chat room every Monday at 7:00
PM eastern time. For more information contact Peter Nkedi-Kizza at email@example.com.
Welcome... Incoming Students Spring 2008
Mark Nalty, MS, K. Reddy
Smita Goswami Barkataky, MS, K. Morgan
Amy Glidewell, MS, R. Ellis
Jake Sneider, MS, R. Ellis
Manmeet Waria, PhD, G. O'Connor
Marie-Jacqueline Depaz, MS, G. Toor
Rupesh Bhomia, PhD, K. Reddy
Moshe Doron, MS, P. Inglett
Kevin Alexander, MS, A. Ogram
Stewart Whitney, MS, A. Shober
Casey Beavers, MS, R. Ellis
Ivan Altamirano Vargas, MS, J. Sartain
FACULTY, STAFF Et STUDENTS
Sabine Grunwald will serve a 3-year term as Associate Editor of
S-5 Soil Sci. Soc. Am. Journal (1/2008 1/2011)
Mary Collins was honored as "Distinguished Alumni" by the
School of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the State
University of New York Cobleskill. This award was given during
Homecoming Weekend at Cobleskill.
Tom Obreza was given the Art Hornsby Distinguished Extension
Professional and Enhancement Award at the EPAF (Extension
Professionals Association of Florida) meeting in September.
Peter Nkedi-Kizza represented the University of Florida by
accompanying Oscar Ahumuza's remains to Uganda and attend
services and burial. Peter Nkedi-Kizza received an award in
recognition of his Outstanding Service Above and Beyond the
Call of Duty from the Division of Student Affairs, University of
Staff plays a critical role in the successful operation of the
department. We thank them for their dedicated service to the
department. In this newsletter the following staff were
awarded recognition pins for their service to the department.
Susan Curry 5 years of service
Martin Sandquist 20 years of service
An Nguyen 25 years of service
Pam Reynolds 30 years of service
2007 SWSD Superior Accomplishment Award: Rhiannon Pollard
Congratulations... Fall 2007
Yun Cheng, Advisor, A. Ogram
Matt Fisher, Advisor, K. Reddy
H. David Hornsby, Advisor, D. Graetz
Gabriel Kasozi, Advisor, P. Nkedi-Kizza
Angelique Keppler, Advisor, K. Reddy
Thomas Saunders, Advisor, M. Collins
Isabela Torres, Advisor, K. Reddy
Amanda Abell, Advisor, K. Moore
Caitlin Hicks, Advisor, K. Reddy
Jason Hood, Advisor, M. Clark
Lalitha Janardhanan, Advisor, S. Daroub
Augustine Muwamba, Advisor, P. Nkedi-Kizza
Catherine Goetz Riiska, Advisor, C. Wilson
Congratulations to the following students for their outstanding accomplishments.
Frederick B. Smith Scholarship: Rachel Vanlandingham
Soil and Water Science Department Outstanding Undergraduate Award: Mathew Vann
William K. "Bill" Robertson Fellowship 2007-2008: Julie Padowski, Advisor, J. Jawitz
and Gustavo Vasques, Advisor, S. Grunwald
Victor W. Carlisle Fellowship 2007-2008: Jango Bhadha, Advisor, J. Jawitz
Sam Polston Memorial Fellowship 2007-2008: Melissa Martin, Advisor, K. Reddy and Julie Driscoll, Advisor, D. Graetz
Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies- PhD: Manohardeep Josan, Advisor, V. Nair
Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies- MS: Caitlin Hicks, Advisor, K. Reddy
The SWSD announces three new graduate-level Certificate Programs
in Sustainable Land Resource and Nutrient Management, Soil
Ecosystem Services, and Wetland and Water Resource Management
(starting Spring 2008). The distance learning delivery mode allows
students in remote locations to complete course assignments and
communicate with faculty and other students anywhere and in their
own time. The Certificate Programs are designed for scientists,
extension agents, consultants and others for professional
development and continued education. Each certificate includes a
total of 12 semester hours of credit. There are 2 core courses and 2
elective course requirements. For more information contact Sabine
Grunwald (DE Coordinator) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Faculty, Student t Staff News-
Distance Education Certificates
Don Graetz and Li Ou retired from UF at the end December, 2007.
We wish them all the best and enjoyable retirement years.
Don Graetz grew up in northeastern Wisconsin near Green Bay (Pound). His family owned
a dairy farm and his early years revolved around activities associated with the farm.
During high school he was active in the Future Farmers of America (FFA). During his first
few years at the University of Wisconsin, his summers were spent on the family farm
giving his Dad, who also worked a full-time job, a little help with farm chores. He
received a BS and advanced degrees from the University of Wisconsin in Soil Science. The
Soils Department program at that time dealt primarily with agronomic issues but his
advisor's program was based on water quality issues, primarily associated with takes, and
Don's research dealt with the fate of pesticides in take sediments. He was able to
complete his MS and PhD degrees without ever working with a soil!
In 1971, Don joined the SWSD at UF. Along with Dr. Roger Nordstedt of the Agriculture
and Biological Engineering Department, Don developed and team-taught an
undergraduate course entitled "Agriculture and Environmental Quality" since 1971. He
has also been involved, at various periods of his career, as undergraduate coordinator and advisor for the Soil and Water
Science and Environmental Management in Agriculture majors. His early research has dealt with nutrient processes
occurring in takes and wetlands. In more recent years his research revolved around utilizing and managing nutrients from
both inorganic and organic sources in ways that would be both agronomically feasible and environmentally sound. Since the
late 1980's his research was conducted largely in the Lake Okeechobee watershed and in the Suwannee River Basin. He also
provided leadership to the IFAS Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer facility since the early 1980's. Don was elected as a
Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and the Soil Science of America. In recognition of his research contributions,
Don was appointed as University of Florida Research Foundation Professor. He served as Chair of S-10 Division -Wetland
Soils, Soil Science Society of America. Don is a leader in the field of animal waste and nutrient management as related to
sustainable agriculture and sound water quality, and influences agency guidelines and policy in developing strategies for
nutrient management. Don retired from UF in December, 2007. He will continue to help with undergraduate advising and a
co-advisor of the UF Agronomy soils Club for the Spring 2008 semester. After that, he plans to "go with the flow" of
whatever retirement brings.
Li-Tse Ou grew up in Taiwan. He received about four years of Japanese elementary
education when Taiwan was occupied by Japan. He attended the National Taiwan
University in Taipei, Taiwan majoring in chemical engineering. After graduation, he
worked as assistant research scientist with the Institute of Chemistry, Academia Sinica in
Taipei. His research involved various aspects of chemistry and biochemistry, occasionally
Supplied microbiology. Li obtained his PhD from the University of Rochester Medical
Center in Rochester, NY in 1971. He continued his academic carrier on an NIH
postdoctoral fellowship at Cornell University where he studied the biodegradation of
several naturally occurring organic chemicals by soil bacteria. As a Research Associate at
the Syracuse Research Corporation, Li conducted research on biodegradation of several
environmentally important pesticides by bacteria isolated from soil and sewage.
In 1975 Li joined the SWSD where for over 25 years his research focused on
biodegradation of pesticides and other environmentally important organic chemicals in
soils and water as well as by bacteria isolated from soils and water. He also conducted research on bioremediation of
pesticides in contaminated soils. Since 2001 his research mainly focused on the fate of soil fumigants important to Florida
agriculture. For over 15 years he taught a graduate level course entitled Biodegradation and Bioremediation. He served as a
scientific advisor to USEPA and consultant to environmental consultant companies.
Li retired from UF at the end of December 2007. In retirement, he will initiate research on bioremediation of DDT and its
toxic metabolites in contaminated soil under aerobic conditions and by aerobic bacteria isolated from the soil. He plans to
travel more to see various parts of the US and other countries and to visit more often his daughter and grandson in