Online Asynchronous Training Modules for the Iowa Nursery and Landscape Association (INLA)

Ann Marie VanDerZanden, Faculty, Horticulture


In consultation with the INLA Executive Board, and through financial support of the Iowa Nurserymen’s Research Corporation, I have created a set of online training modules to help INLA members prepare for the Iowa Certified Nursery Professional exam. This project has been on-going for 3 years.


Develop and disseminate a series of 20 online training modules that will be used by the Iowa Nursery and Landscape Association members to prepare for the twice yearly certification testing.


Currently there are 20 online training modules available for INLA members. The modules replace the printed training manuals which were used in the past. Additionally, all INLA members have access to the modules and each company can use them to meet their own educational needs such as individual professional development or new employee training. 

Eight modules cover plant identification including the categories of: annuals, conifers, deciduous trees, groundcovers, herbaceous perennials, perennial grasses, shrubs and vines. The remaining twelve modules cover the general topics addressed in the certification exam such as: Plant Identification and Characteristics; How Plants Work: Growth and Development; Rooting Environment and Fertilization; Selection, Installation and Establishment of Landscape Plants; Turfgrass Establishment and Management; Management of Turfgrass Diseases and Insects; Introduction to Plant Diseases and Insects; Diagnosing Plant Problems; Managing Plant Diseases and Insects; Garden Center Management; Landscape Design; and New Employee Training and Professionalism.

The 12 general topic modules each contain a list of objectives, an image rich PowerPoint presentation with accompanying audio which is searchable by topic and has printable notes, self-test exercises, and online quizzes with immediate feedback to help learners test their understanding of the content.

These modules have been available to INLA members since January 2007. Since then, over 200 members have accessed the modules. The time spent on these modules per online session has ranged from just a few minutes to nearly 2 hours. Overall responses to the modules have been positive.

Outcome Statement:   

Participants who took the Iowa Certified Nursery Professional exam in January 2009 completed a 19-question survey about the modules. The 15 Likert-type scale questions (scale 1-5 where 1=excellent; 5=poor) averaged a 2.4. The question “My overall rating of these online training modules is:” received a 2.2 rating. Follow up surveys will be completed over the next few years to learn more about behavior change as a result of completing the online training modules.


130  Horticulture: Commercial and Consumer 

Page last updated: August 5, 2009
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