Frequently Asked Questions about the NLI Online Certificate Programs

1. Which course should I take?

Early Childhood Outdoor Learning Environments was developed with early childhood professionals in mind. However, it is open to anyone interested in learning about tools for improving outdoor play and learning environments at childcare facilities serving children ages 0 to 7 years old to support healthy, active lifestyles and learning through nature.  Students have included directors, educators, and caregivers working in childcare centers, preschools, family childcare homes, and Head Start programs; technical assistance providers; trainers; childcare licensing supervisors; Smart Start representatives; cooperative extension agents; community college instructors; horticultural professionals; and parent volunteers. The course is open to designers interested in childcare environments, however, Designing Early Childhood Environments may be a better option for this group.

Designing Early Childhood Outdoor Environments was developed for design professionals and design students who are interested in learning about participatory design processes and tools to create outdoor play and learning environments for young children and adults accompanying them. The overall objective is to teach designers how to create environments that stimulate children to learn in, through, and about nature, while supporting healthy, active lifestyles. Participants may include landscape architects, landscape designers, architects, public garden professionals, exhibit designers, as well as academics and students in landscape architecture, architecture, and horticulture programs.  The capstone project requires technical drafting skills. Students must have previous experience preparing scale plans and access to the tools or software needed to do this (either hand drafted or computer drawn plans are acceptable). Landscape architects may receive 24 professional development hours from the Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System upon passing this course.

2. What can I expect to get from the program?

Early Childhood Outdoor Learning Environments: After completing the Early Childhood Outdoor Learning Environments Certificate Program, participants will be able to:

  • Recognize outdoor learning environments (OLEs) as place where children’s physical, social, and emotional development can be encouraged.
  • Describe how outdoor environments, particularly those in childcare/child development facilities, can be designed with a diverse mix of manufactured and natural materials, objects, and settings to support creative play, learning, and development in children 0-7 years old.
  • Explain how improving OLE quality can positively impact physical activity, encourage healthy eating, and motivate learning in young children.
  • Apply methods for creating and managing high quality outdoor environments to support experiential learning. Demonstrate OLE quality improvement as a health intervention and system-change strategy.
  • Earn 2.4 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) from North Carolina State University.
  • Earn a certificate of completion awarded by North Carolina State University.

 

Designing Early Childhood Outdoor Environments: After completing the Designing Early Childhood Outdoor Environments Certificate Program, participants will be able to:

  • Identify design methods that encourage young children in outdoor settings to be active, practice motor development skills, engage in outdoor learning, and be connected with nature.
  • Discover how to create high quality outdoor environments to support early childhood experiential learning.
  • Understand the influence of design on physical activity and healthy eating in young children.
  • Recognize landscape design as a human/environment health intervention and system-change
  • Earn 2.4 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) from North Carolina State University.
  • Licensed landscape architects can also earn 24 professional development hours from the Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System (LA CES).
  • Earn a certificate of completion awarded by North Carolina State University.
3. Will I receive credit hours I can use toward a university degree program?

No, you will not receive credit hours you can use toward a degree program for completing either course. The courses are continuing education courses offered to professionals.

4. What software or equipment is required to take the courses?

Online access: An internet connection is needed to access course materials, take quizzes, submit assignments, and participate in forums and discussions for both courses.

Software/Equipment:

For Early Childhood Outdoor Learning Environments, students need to have access to basic word processing software and a means to take and upload photos.

For Designing Early Childhood Outdoor Environments only, students will also need to have access to tools or software needed to draft and render scale plans or details (any mix of hand and computer aided drafting is acceptable).

5. What are the requirements for completing the courses?

Participation in Modules: Both courses are broken into eight modules. These modules include required lectures, videos, and readings. Students must engage with all required materials to complete the course. Instructors are able to review whether students engage with materials.

Exercises: Each of the first seven modules in each course have a short exercise that must be completed to pass the course. Students must earn at least 80% on each of these exercises by the end date of the course (announced the beginning of the course on the course website) to earn the certificate. Students are allowed to retake quizzes twice and only the highest grade on each quiz will count.

Capstone Project: To pass the course, a final project that meets the criteria laid out in the capstone project assignment must be completed. Participants in Early Childhood Outdoor Learning Environments must do one of the following: plan and (if possible) implement a small scale incremental improvement to an outdoor area for young children, critically examine an existing play and learning area for young children using standard tools, create an original case study of an outdoor play and learning area for young children, or plan an outdoor play or learning event for young children.

Students in Designing Early Childhood Outdoor Environments must either design a schematic plan for a landscape for young children (no more than 1.5 acres), plan and (if possible) implement a planting design for young children, critically examine and redesign an outdoor learning environment at a childcare facility using a standard tool, or create a detailed design for a complex play and learning setting.

6. What is the timeframe for completion of the course?

Students are expected to put in approximately 24 hours of effort over the course of 12 weeks. However, students often choose to dedicate additional time to their capstone project. Students have up to 12 weeks (from the start date of the course) to complete all course requirements. The class is self-paced. However, students are strongly encouraged to complete at least one module per week, so they will have time to submit a draft of their capstone project and receive feedback on that draft.

7. What is the cost for participation?

Early Childhood Outdoor Learning Environments: The registration cost for the certificate course in Fall 2018 is $50 for North Carolina residents (whose participation is subsidized through a grant) and $450 for non-North Carolina residents.

Designing Early Childhood Outdoor Environments: The registration cost for the certificate course in Fall 2018 is $450.

8. How do I register for the course?

Go to the link below and follow the instructions to register. Links to register will be added when the next section of the course opens.

9. Will I be able to access the course website after the course end date?

Unfortunately, participants do not have access to the course website after the course end date.

10. Can course participants download handouts/videos/lectures from the course website?

You are welcome to download materials of the course reading materials and handouts for your own future use. If you plan to distribute materials from the course to others that are copyrighted and not freely available online, you will need to receive permission. You won’t be able to download videos/lectures from the course website. A small number of the videos are publicly available on YouTube, and can be shared as desired.

11. Is it possible to withdraw from the course after registering?

To drop the course and receive a refund, send a notification by email to both Laura Lloyd (ljlloyd@ncsu.edu) and Elizabeth New (ejnew@ncsu.edu) no later than the drop deadline (announced in the course website). After the drop deadline, if unable to complete the required coursework, participants may withdraw at any time with no refund.

12. If I am unable to complete the course, am I eligible to take the course in a later session/semester?

To receive the certificate, participants are welcome to re-enroll in a future session paying the corresponding registration fee and completing all required coursework again.

13. Whom should I contact if I still have questions?

Please contact Laura Lloyd (ljlloyd@ncsu.edu) via email if you still have questions.