An online course offered by Purdue University’s Agronomy e-Learning Academy, Precision Agriculture, has received the 2017 Digital Education Excellence in Teaching Award for a noncredit course, the highest possible award of its kind at Purdue. In 2015, the academy’s initial course, agronomy essentials, earned the same award.
Agricultural professionals often face challenges in continuing education, as they must fit classes into unpredictable schedules and may also live and work in remote locations. As a result, taking classroom courses is not often possible. Purdue’s Agronomy e-Learning Academy helps meet this need for agronomy education for growers, retailers and other agricultural professionals.
A third class, nutrient management, will soon be added. The successful completion of all three courses earns a framed Crop Professional Certificate.
Over the past two years, 709 agricultural professional students have completed the online courses. Participants in the Agronomy e-Learning Academy represent 39 states and 22 countries. They also represent a wide range of backgrounds, including students with high school diplomas to those with doctorate degrees. Professional background among students ranged from those with less than one year of experience to those with more than 20 years of work history in agriculture.
In agronomy essentials, learners receive broad-based knowledge of agronomy that progresses through the growing season, with each learning module building upon the previous. Topics include soil and water management, soil fertility, crops and cropping systems, crop development and diagnostics, and pest management. The course includes 100 high-definition video lessons supplemented with reading, graphics, glossaries, downloadable slides, links to additional educational resources, and a quiz at the end of each module.
An experienced grower from Michigan, Paul Prielipp of Prielipp Farms said, “I greatly enjoyed the Agronomy Essentials course. I have spent my entire life in agriculture and was still able to learn a lot throughout the course and add to my previous knowledge.”
Precision Agriculture provides instruction regarding the technology and techniques used in site-specific agriculture. Recognized subject-matter experts from leading universities across the U.S. teach 12 learning modules through recorded HD video lessons. Topics include global positioning systems, satellite, aerial, and proximal sensors, grid/zone sampling, variable rate technology, yield monitoring, automation, geographic information systems, telematics, and data analysis. Videotaped discussions with farmers and retailers successfully using precision agriculture add a practical side to the discussions in each learning module.
Nutrient management, soon to be offered, delves into soil chemistry and microbiology as well as plant physiology, soil amendments, nutrient assessment, fertilizer and manure sources, application rates, timing, and placement. This advanced course is intended for those with some knowledge of agronomy.
Agronomy e-learning courses have received high praise from students. Of all 428 respondents on the voluntary anonymous survey at the end of each course, 98% agreed or strongly agreed that they improved their understanding of the subject by taking the course. Also, 97% said they would recommend the course.
The next session of all courses will run from June 14 through Sept. 6. Registration opens on May 1 from the link on the website: https://tinyurl.com/purdueagry.