University of Queensland students are gaining unprecedented access to farms and other agricultural sites through self-navigated virtual tours.
The creative approach to teaching and learning is being led by Associate Lecturer Suresh Krishnasamy from UQ’s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences. Mr. Suresh said students scrolled their way around 360° images for invaluable insights into the agricultural corridor between Brisbane and Toowoomba.
“The project bypasses the logistical headaches that come with field trips, such as cost, class size, timetabling, and safety,” Mr. Suresh said.
“So far, it covers the Lockyer Valley and Darling Downs regions which contain primary production that aligns with the concepts taught in the Bachelor of Agricultural Science course at UQ. This includes horticulture, cropping, production animal management, natural grazing, feedlots in a range of agribusiness models.”
One site that students can visit is Boomaroo Nurseries west of Toowoomba, a supplier of wholesale vegetable seedlings to the fresh produce industry and potted plants to the nursery and garden industry.
The plan is to add more sites to broaden student experiences, and the UQ team is seeking producers and organizations willing to be involved. Mr. Suresh said a virtual tour developed by Australian Pork Industries had recently been added, and the team was in talks with two other locations.
“The great thing about this is that it’s simple to set up – you just need some nice quality 360° images of the site, and you’re good to go,” Mr. Suresh said. “We hope this ease of use will allow us to keep populating the map so that anyone, not just agriculture students and teachers, can pick it up and use it. There are many educational applications for this format, and it’s a really exciting opportunity.”
Third-year Bachelor of Agricultural Science student Claire Cornel has completed the Boomaroo tour and said she learned about the nursery, the different equipment on the site, and how it benefited the nursery and environment.
UQ students are using 360° images and video to take virtual tours of farms
“Lectures and practicals are good to demonstrate a concept, but the key to fully encompassed learning is to see those concepts in action,” Ms. Cornel said.
“Virtual tours are able to harness key advantages of site visits such as the ability to witness real-world problems and solutions.”
The project is an example of the creative and innovative approaches being celebrated during UQ’s Teaching and Learning (T&L) Week through five days of events across the university’s campuses.
A team of academics has supported the project, including Dr. Millicent Smith, Dr. Edward Narayan, and Dr. Ammar Abdul Aziz, along with UQ’s Science Blended Learning team and eLearning Innovations and Partnerships in Science and Engineering (eLIPSe).
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University of Queensland