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APSU to teach classes in and from Afghanistan

8/17/2009
Bob Moore, an adjunct professor at Austin Peay State University, had to be flexible when he set up his class schedule for the fall semester because there isn't much free time or access to good classroom space where he is in the Paktya Province of Afghanistan.

For the last several months, Moore has been serving in the war zone with the Tennessee Army National Guard's Agribusiness Development Team, but that isn't stopping him from teaching a class or two.

Effective Aug. 17, he will be teaching Agriculture 4450, Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping, which coincides with some of his duties as a soldier. His mission in Afghanistan is to help rebuild agricultural infrastructure in the war-torn region, which includes working with locals on raising honeybees.

“I will actually teach it as a hybrid class, with complete notes posted in the online environment, and a flexible class schedule of one or two classes a week in the mess hall on the (Forward Operating Base) after chow,” Moore said via e-mail. “Should be fun.”

The course is a distance-learning class offered through the military's Go Army Ed program. But it won't be the only class Moore will head up from Afghanistan.

“I will also be teaching Agricultural Economics, this fall in the online environment for APSU,” he said.

The class will be taught from Afghanistan, but it'll be geared toward students living in the states by providing a hands-on atmosphere not often utilized in the online environment.

“The faculty in Agriculture has been slower than some other areas of APSU to develop Web courses because we have a strong history of lab work and a concept of ‘learning by doing,' which permeates our courses,” Dr. James Goode, agriculture professor, said.

Moore, however, is requiring his students to get out from behind the computers. Their first assignment requires them to attend a livestock auction.

“Watching an auction is a far more effective introduction to Agricultural Marketing than reading a chapter about it,” Goode said. “Afterwards, students are better able to grasp how an ‘order buyer' earns a living while performing a service for feeders.”

What they might not be able to grasp is the fact that the guy giving them their grade is half a world away, marching with a machine gun in his hand while the coarse dust of Afghanistan stings his eyes. Excuses for missed assignments might not hold up well with this professor. -- Charles Booth