October 2007 // Volume 45 // Number 5 // Tools of the Trade // 5TOT5

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Using Articulate® to Develop On-Line Pesticide Training Modules

All pesticide license holders are required to accrue continuing education units (CEUs) to maintain proper license status. Although CEUs are provided through face-to-face meetings within UF IFAS Extension, attaining sufficient credits can often be difficult. Therefore, we have developed pesticide training modules using Articulate® to add voice narration to existing presentations. These modules have been offered for sale through an on-line bookstore. When the module is purchased, the presentation begins to play automatically. The presentation stops periodically, and the user must answer questions to quizzes embedded into the presentation. The user is then granted CEU credit for successfully completing the training.

Jason Ferrell
Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist

Frederick M. Fishel
Associate Professor & Pesticide Information Officer

University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida


There are currently 91 pesticides labeled for use in Florida that are registered as "Restricted Use" (Fishel, 2005). A pesticide applicator must possess or work directly under the purview of a pesticide license holder in order to use "restricted use" products. Consequently, pesticide license holders must accumulate between eight and 20 continuing education units (CEUs) every 4 years, depending on license type (Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services). Traditionally, CEUs have been administered through face-to-face workshops and meetings through county Extension offices and large statewide conferences.

Problems with CEU Accumulation

  • Although cost for attending meetings is often quite low, barriers such as travel and appointment scheduling can decrease the number of individuals in attendance.

  • Meetings are often held during the day and attract mainly professional agricultural clientele. However, those working off the farm during the day are less likely to attend meetings.

  • If meetings are not being held, CEU's are generally not available through other means.

  • If a license holder lacks CEU's and no courses are being offered, the license can be lost due to failure to accumulate adequate credit.

  • Many times license holders wait until the last minute to get recertified.

Potential Solution

A system has been developed that provides CEUs electronically through a Web-based interface that may be more convenient for non-traditional pesticide applicators. This system utilizes Articulate® to embed narration in existing PowerPoint® presentations developed for pesticide training. This allows a PowerPoint® presentation to provide training and grant CEUs at any time without additional investment of Extension support.

Advantages of Articulate®

  • Narration is done one slide at a time. Hence, each slide has a separate narration file.

  • Slides can be rearranged after narration is complete because each slide has an independent narration file.

  • Narration for individual slides can be rerecorded to update the presentation without having to re-narrate the entire presentation.

  • When the presentation and narration are complete, Articulate® publishes the presentation as a Flash Macromedia® file. Flash can be downloaded at no cost and allows viewing without purchasing PowerPoint®.

  • Converting to a Flash file format greatly decreases file size and makes downloading and viewing via the web more manageable.

Testing with Articulate® Software

  • Articulate® software allows interactive quizzes to be included in the presentation. Software currently used in the Florida program is QuizMaker®.

  • The quizzes can be either True/False, matching, or multiple choice.

  • Wrong answers can elicit no response, the correct answer, or transport the user back to the slide where the pertinent information was presented.

  • The quizzes can also be used to periodically stop the seminar and better ensure that the client is present for the duration of the training.

  • These quizzes can also gauge the effectiveness of the presentation. By providing the same quiz before and after the presentation, knowledge gain can easily be quantified.

Immediate Application

  • The training modules are sent to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and approved for CEUs.

  • The modules are posted online with the University of Florida IFAS bookstore for purchase by the general public at a cost of $20 per CEU.

  • Each module has a brief description on the Web site and a list of what license categories have been approved for credit.

  • After the module is completed, an email is sent to the UF IFAS Pesticide Office so the CEU credit can be filed with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Other Applications

Training for New County Agents

As new agents are hired in the Extension service, they are often very knowledgeable in some topics and deficient in others. Rather than holding annual agent training symposiums to discuss basic concepts in various fields, training modules can be developed to serve as tutoring sessions. The training modules can be designed to teach basic concepts (photos) or techniques (video) and be provided to all new county Extension agents. This then allows personal training sessions to be reserved for more advanced topics that will serve a broader range of agents rather than simply providing basic training each year.

Distance Extension

Occasionally a new pest species arises that requires rapid response for grower groups or industry professionals. Rather than waiting for meetings to receive technology updates, these modules can provide new information in a timelier manner. This technology can quickly disseminate needed information and include various industry professionals that cannot attend traditional meetings because of constraints of time or distance.

Potential Obstacles

The obstacles to this technology are similar to those outlined by Stafne, McCraw, & Mulder (2006). These include adequate Internet access by the end-user, module download time, cost of the training, and lack of awareness. However, these modules will be chiefly marketed to those with a non-traditional agriculture background. It is likely that the targeted clientele may be more willing to engage in on-line training.


This program is new to the University of Florida - IFAS Extension. Therefore, data have yet to be collected on use patterns, perception of these modules, number of CEUs granted, or likelihood of repeat use.


Fishel, F. M. (2005). Restricted use pesticides. On-line. Retrieved October 31, 2006 from http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/PI073.

Stafne, E. T., McCraw, B. D., & Mulder P. G. (2006). Evaluation of an e-learning online pecan management course. Journal of Extension [On-line], 44(4) Article 4TOT6. Available at: http://www.joe.org/joe/2006august/tt7.shtml