Cohort Learning: Bringing Distance Education Home

A MODEL FOR COHORT LEARNING: BRINGING DISTANCE EDUCATION HOME
S. Carnevale, UF/IFAS Extension, Polk County, Bartow, FL

Objectives:  The objective of this program was to provide added value to distance-learning content through the use of a local learning “cohort” and provide a local connection between UF IFAS Extension and UF IFAS CALS. Methods: Faculty used the “Cultivating Change: Social Marketing” certificate program offered by the UF/IFAS Agricultural Education and Communication department as the platform for a cohort learning model. This program was advertised to local stakeholders via email and word of mouth and offered additional support via a face-to-face cohort to discuss program content and explore applications of the material to the participant’s field. Four community members registered for the certificate program with UF E-Learning and agreed to complete one “chapter” or “module,” of the course prior to attending regularly scheduled, face-to-face meetings. At these meetings, the Agent led the cohort through a discussion of chapter materials and content, organized activities using the lesson’s content, and encouraged participants to share how they could relate each lesson to their profession. Results: Through a two-month follow-up survey, 100% (n=4) indicated that the cohort format added “a Great Deal” or “a Lot” of added value to the e-learning experience.  In addition, 100% of participants surveyed (n=4) indicated that they were “extremely likely” to participate in future Extension events of a similar format, and were “extremely likely” to recommend this type of programming to others. Conclusions: Extension can improve e-learning participants’ experience by offering local cohort learning which provides real-world examples and facilitated discussion of e-learning content.

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