CORVALLIS - High school students interested in Oregon's flora and fauna can study it online with other students from around the state in "Wildlife and Forestry of Oregon," one of many high school courses now available through the K-12 Online program at Oregon State University Extended Campus.
The popular life science class is offered as a collaboration between the Oregon Forest Resources Institute and the K-12 Online program. Offered for the first time last spring, this course brings together students from cities and rural areas in Oregon to discuss forest management and wildlife topics in their respective regions, as well as the role forest management plays in maintaining a healthy and diverse wildlife community.
The class is worth 0.5 high school credits, and because of the collaboration between the two agencies the tuition is $150, about half the normal K-12 Online tuition. The course also prepares students for Envirothon, a state and national competition held each spring in which teams of high school students meet outdoors for hands-on training and competition in areas such as soils, aquatics, wildlife and current environmental issues.
Courses such as this fit well into the mission of the OSU Extended Campus PreK-12 Outreach unit, which includes OSU K-12 Online. A goal is to develop partnerships between elementary, secondary and higher education, and communities to help meet the educational needs of students.
"Many schools and parents are just beginning to realize the added benefits that online learning can bring to K-12 students," said Tryna Luton, outreach coordinator for Extended Campus. "We are partnering with schools to create and implement programs or courses that meet the specific needs of school districts and other educational institutions."
One such partnership has been the delivery of conversational cultural Spanish via the Web and videoconferencing to middle school students in Alamogordo, N.M. Another is a marine science course taught in conjunction with marine experts at OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.
OSU K-12 Online has been offering high school courses to students in Oregon and around the U.S. since fall, 2003, with over 30 courses now available in all high school subject areas. Currently, 15 highly qualified teachers instruct the high school courses, with some middle school courses available.