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Title: Educating Australian high school students in relation to the digital future of agriculture: A practice report
Contributor(s): Whannell, Robert (author)orcid ; Cosby, Amy (author); Tobias, Stephen (author); Trotter, Mark (author); Lamb, David (author)
Publication Date: 2014
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Abstract: This presentation describes the steps being taken at a regional university to address two related needs in the Australian rural context: the lack of tertiary qualified graduates in the Australian agriculture industry and the deficit of qualified science and mathematics teachers in rural locations. The Australian agriculture sector includes 7% of workers who are tertiary qualified, compared with 25% for the national workforce. This situation is exacerbated due to tertiary institutions providing 800 graduates each year to meet an estimated demand of 2000. With the increasing challenges of a steadily growing population and Australian climatic conditions, the best use must be made of the agricultural resources available through the use of digitally based precision agriculture by people appropriately qualified in mathematics, science and information technology. The number of students studying science and mathematics has been declining at both the secondary and tertiary levels of education. This decline is also being seen in the number of qualified science and mathematics teachers, with particular shortages evident in many schools in rural centres. In an attempt to address these challenges, the University of New England has developed a number of engagement strategies targeting high school students centred on the SMART (sustainable, management, and accessible rural technologies) Farm that highlights the use of the latest technology to improve productivity. The initiatives include student outreach programs in science and agriculture and the development of an interactive digital classroom to engage junior secondary mathematics and science students. These initiatives are often the first time students come into contact with the term 'precision agriculture' and the underlying mathematics, science and information technology involved. The success of the program is evidenced by an increase in enrolments in agriculture-based courses at the university of 10-15% per year in the three years since the initiative was commenced.
Publication Type: Conference Publication
Conference Name: Digital Rural Futures Conference 2014: Regional Futures, Agricultural Futures, Digital Futures, Toowoomba, Australia, 25th - 27th June, 2014
Conference Details: Digital Rural Futures Conference 2014: Regional Futures, Agricultural Futures, Digital Futures, Toowoomba, Australia, 25th - 27th June, 2014
Source of Publication: Proceedings of the Digital Rural Futures Conference, p. 15-16
Publisher: University of Southern Queensland
Place of Publication: Toowoomba, Australia
Field of Research (FOR): 130399 Specialist Studies in Education not elsewhere classified
HERDC Category Description: E3 Extract of Scholarly Conference Publication
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