Using distance education to enhance technology transfer
There is an increasing need for farmers to be well educated in order to successfully manage today's complex farm businesses. At the same time farmers are unable to attend regular institutionally based programs. In many cases both farm spouses need and desire more education. Accordingly, the School of Agriculture and the Extension Division developed a Certificate in Agriculture program which resulted in regular, on-campus Diploma in Agriculture courses to be delivered off-campus throughout the province in an enhanced correspondence mode. Four were delivered for the first time in 1990-91 to the homes of 124 adult learners who had an average age of 35.5 years and of which 20.2 percent were female. In 1991-92 101 additional students, with an average age of 34.5 and of which 16.0 percent were female, started to take Crop Production courses from a choice of seven. In 1990-91 nearly 90 percent of the students completed the courses. Off-campus students out performed first year on-campus students by a considerable margin and performed on par with second and third year on-campus students. Course evaluations by students indicated that courses were interesting and applicable. A feeling of isolation, a common problem of distance learners, was successfully overcome by regular telephone contact and by periodic group sessions at regional centres, interconnected by telephone and satellite television with a University based tutor.
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