THE Department of Technology-Enhanced Learning at Cork Institute of Technology has designed an innovative programme aimed at farmers, their spouses or anyone indeed with an interest in agriculture and technology from those communities.
The European-funded Erasmus+ research project, entitled SmartRural, is looking at how mobile applications can be used to enhance agricultural activities as well as improving productivity, social and economic activities in rural communities.
Irish farmers are among the leading in the world in adopting SmartPhone technology, as agri technology is accelerating at a rapid pace, seeing innovations such as wearable technology for animals, dairy parlour technology and other automated systems; and all of these things can be managed and monitored using SmartPhone applications.
Farmers are using mobile applications to enhance their working processes. Mike Brady, agricultural consultant, explains: ‘Productivity these days is key; apps like Done Deal for example are firmly putting farmers in the driving seat when it comes to buying and selling goods and services online.
‘Other apps, such as Whatsapp, are extremely popular amongst the farming community allowing for new conversations, knowledge exchange, new farming videos, and new farming techniques to be exchanged.’ Catherine Murphy, project manager for the Smart Rural Project at CIT, believes that that the training in mobile devices and usage will open up many new useful applications for the farming community. ‘Our research shows that farmers are keen to avail of new technologies to support farm efficiency. The training course will support farmers who want to learn more about farming and related apps,’ said Ms Murphy.
The project will see the rollout in 2018 of training programmes in France, Spain and Ireland to rural communities. Shane Cronin, lead e-learning designer at CIT, explains how the programme is designed: ‘Together with our colleagues in France and Spain, we have conducted a lot of research in this area. Our research is evidence-based and informs the course design where we look at logical themes including SmartPhone essentials, productivity, finance, and health and wellbeing.’
The course uses a blended approach, combining online learning material with hands-on workshops, which take place at Cork Institute of Technology’s Department of Technology-Enhanced Learning. The training itself takes place from January 15th to 19th and the course also includes field trip to an agricultural technology facility in Cork.
• If you’re from the farming community and are interested in the project, go to www.cit.ie/smartrural, email: [email protected] or phone: 021-4335920.