Learning Module/Notebook

William Lester
Urban/Commercial Horticulture

Lester, W.*1,
1 Urban/Commercial Horticulture, UF/IFAS, Spring Hill, Fl, 34608

Recruiting and training new volunteers for the Master Gardener program is an important component of a successful organization.  Merging opportunities offered by the improved technology of an on-line learning management system, and a desire to create a stronger horticulture program, a flipped classroom program of new Master Gardener training was created. Master Gardener training in Florida normally requires students to spend an entire day in training each week; but by offering much of the instruction on-line, the training can be offered to a much wider cross section of the community. This is the first occasion where on-line training of new Master Gardeners has been offered by UF/IFAS Extension in Florida.

The current curriculum, previously taught in-person, was transformed into an on-line course offered on the University of Florida Canvas E-Learning Platform. Presentations normally given by me personally or guest lecturers were recorded, uploaded to a YouTube page and placed in Canvas.  Learning objectives, quizzes, a variety of assignments and additional resources were all added to the Canvas course.

Students are required to attend an in-person session once a week for three hours, where hands-on activities that reinforce the week’s video lessons are performed. By offering the lectures on-line, more of these hands-on activities are covered without requiring students to spend an entire day at our office. The students are also required to participate in discussions posted in Canvas and a small group exercise in plant diagnostics on the site.

The first group of 12 students was trained from September-November of 2017 and expressed a high level of satisfaction on the format and quality of training materials based on surveys.  Approximately 50% of the trainees would not have been able to participate in a traditional all-day course.


Seven classes of Master Gardeners have been taught using this flipped classroom format, where participants do most of their learning online.  Because of the additional experiential learning included in the evening sessions, these trainees are more confident that they can offer residents a measurable economic benefit through the services Extension offers.