CAFRE Inspired by SRUC’s Digital Classroom & Digital Learning, Teaching and Assessment Projects

Image L-R: SRUC Horticulture/Forestry Instructor Brian Connelly, CAFRE Senior Lecturer Agriculture Irene Downey, SRUC Forestry Lecturer Andrew Treadaway, SRUC Digital Learning Developer Ali Hastie, CAFRE IT Manager Aidan Shore, CAFRE Equine Technologist Rachel Annan, Senior Equine Technologist Stephanie Wood, SRUC Agriculture Lecturer Donald Brown, CAFRE Digital Learning Developer Alan Blackwood.
Missing from photograph: SRUC, Barony Campus Animal Care Programme Team Leader Jackie Irving and Barony Campus Advanced Certificate in Forestry student Connor Mitchell.

Agriculture and equine staff from Northern Ireland got a hands-on demonstration of digital teaching methods during a visit to Scotland’s Rural College.

Staff from IT, Digital Learning and Lecturers from the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) visited SRUC’s Barony campus in Dumfries to learn more about its digital classroom after hearing about it at an Irish education conference earlier this year.

SRUC’s e-Learning Developer Ali Hastie spoke about the range of innovative digital teaching, learning and assessment methods being used at Barony – and shared across SRUC – at the Teagasc National Education Conference in Ballyhaise in April.

During the CAFRE visit, teaching staff from Barony’s agricultureequine and forestry departments showed their Northern Irish colleagues how they deliver blended learning projects – where students learn via electronic and online media as well as traditional face-to-face teaching – both within and outside of the digital classroom.

A student representative from the Advanced Certificate in Forestry was also present at the Digital Classroom visit voicing their opinions on the Digital Classroom and the new Tree Identification Unit initiative. Advanced Certificate student (Connor Mitchell) made comment during the Online Tree Identification project presentation session:

“I personally didn’t like Information Technology as I was not IT illiterate previous to entering the Digital Classroom.  When I first sat down in the Digital Classroom, I hated it! I initially thought that a room like this would replace teaching staff.”

“Going through the new online Tree Identification Unit, working and supporting one another within my team on our presentations and e-Portfolio of trees, viewing and peer reviewing others great work completely changed my perspective of the Digital Classroom and technology as a whole. I love this room, and talking behalf of the other students, I believe it suits our learning needs and styles”

“If it hadn’t been for the Digital Classroom, the new Tree ID Unit, my team mates and Andrew Treadaway (Forestry lecturer) guiding us all the way through,  I would never have passed my own Tree Identification Unit assessments first time! I would have certainly struggled on my own.”   

Dr Stephanie Wood, Senior Equine Technologist at CAFRE, said: “The Barony approach to student collaborative learning within the digital classroom was innovative and engaging, both for staff and students, and presents a real world solution to encourage student participation.”  

“The excellent demonstration and genuine enthusiasm shown by Barony staff have encouraged CAFRE to seriously investigate how we could adopt this technology.”

Ali Hastie said: “It was a privilege having CAFRE staff travelling all the way from Northern Ireland to visit our campus in order to find out more about our digital classroom initiative, and learn from a selection of our successful and award-winning digital teaching and learning projects.”

“I was also very proud with the teaching teams here at Barony Campus presenting a selection of their successful digital teaching, learning and assessment projects in which has truly inspired CAFRE to follow SRUC’s digital journey in order to improve their own students teaching and learning. Was also great to hear such positive comments from students who have had life changing experiences within the Digital Classroom and improved deeper knowledge and understanding surrounding their subjects.”  

“From this sharing of best and innovative practice, Barony staff have been invited over to CAFRE in order to learn more from one another in which will strengthen the links and relationships between the two institutions even further.”

Image gallery below where Advanced Certificate in Forestry student (Connor Mitchell) went snap happy:

Staff from Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) Visits the Digital Classroom

Left – Right: Suzanne Scott (RZSS, Head of Discovery & Learning). Amy Cox (RZSS, Schools and Youth Prgramme Manager), Jackie Irving (SRUC, Barony Campus Animal Care Programme Team Leader), Ali Hastie (SRUC, e-Learning Developer), Andrew Treadaway (SRUC, Barony Campus Forestry Lecturer), Jonathan Prior (RZSS, Tertiary Education Officer), Cathy Macdonald (SRUC, e-Learning Developer)

Students at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) are set to take a walk on the wild side following a collaboration with Edinburgh Zoo, which could see classes using immersive technology and undertaking virtual field trips.

Staff from the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) visited the new digital classroom at SRUC’s Barony Campus in Dumfries to learn more about the opportunities offered by the state-of-the-art technology.

They also met with staff from the Animal Care, Forestry and e-Learning departments to discuss the possibility of collaborating on future projects which would benefit both staff and students at SRUC and the youth programmes delivered through Edinburgh Zoo.

Suzanne Scott, head of Discovery and Learning at RZSS, said:

Having previously worked in learning technology in a tertiary environment, I was keen to bring those skills to the conservation education sector in my new role at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland as Head of Discovery and Learning.

One of my first ports of call was SRUC’s Barony Campus, as I have long been aware of their innovative approach to learning technology.  Working in similar fields, there are a number of common challenges for both Edinburgh Zoo and the staff at SRUC, particularly in terms of teaching subjects based in nature, but still ensuring the students develop their digital literacy skills to ensure their relevance in a 21st century workplace.

Barony successfully balances this and continues to push the boundaries of learning technology. Their new digital classroom is a triumph, showcasing not only the most up to date approaches to learning technology but by promoting independent and collaborative learning amongst students and supporting staff in changing their approach to delivery.

Overall Barony’s passion for learning technology is an inspiration and we look forward to establishing a partnership with staff across various departments to further establish this relationship, with both parties contributing to the long term benefits of combining outdoor based learning with appropriate digital technology.”

Jackie Irving, Animal Care Programme Team Leader at Barony, said: “The common interest in conservation and education will make this a very valuable partnership. It will also greatly benefit students and staff across all SRUC faculties, including Forestry, Horticulture, Animal Care and Veterinary Nursing.

“The collaboration will expose SRUC students to a wider range of experiences relevant to their industries and develop independent learning and reflection.

“This is an exciting venture that will enhance the learning of many students, provide specialist skills to obtain employment and embed lifelong learning.”

Staff from SRUC are meeting the RZSS team at Edinburgh Zoo in May to identify projects, including the use of immersive technologies, virtual field trips and other learning and teaching opportunities.

HNC Animal Care Students Collaborate within PowerPoint Presentations

With the confidence gained and witnessing the huge benefits in using the Digital Classroom with the HND Animal Care students, Animal Care lecturer (Claire Hodgkins) and the e-Learning Developer (Ali Hastie) at Barony Campus have developed an outcome for the Small Animal Husbandry Unit. As part of Learning Outcome 2 of their assessment, students will individually digitally record the planning, design and implementation of an animal enrichment program of their chosen animal.

Starting with building collaboration, digital and research skills as an ice breaker, teams accessed ‘basic’ Microsoft PowerPoint templates within their Moodle course in which contained specific animals asking animal enrichment related questions within each slide. Uploading the template PowerPoints and working collaboratively online through Office365, student teams produced and presented ‘awesome’ informative PowerPoint presentations answering all questions appropriately.  So much so, with the lecturer’s request, students will act as Student Ambassadors in sharing best practice to teaching staff in getting the best out of Microsoft PowerPoint.

From this template PowerPoint presentation:

To the Blue Team’s awesome PowerPoint Presentation:

With true team dynamics in place and learning about each other’s individual projects, teams will progress in supporting one another in using video Apps for recording, editing and embedding digital evidence within their individual online Journals and e-Portfolio (Mahara) assessments on their enrichment programs. 

HNC Agriculture Pest & Diseases Projects


Donald Brown (Agriculture Lecturer) has had the HNC Agriculture students working within their groups within the Kirkmichael Digital Classroom. The four teams have been allocated a category of livestock diseases; bacteria, virus, parasite and metabolic.

The teams carried out research on a minimum of 4 important diseases within their allocated subject while in the Digital Classroom. The teams initially collated their researched digital evidence within team-based collaborative online Padlet walls. See the Green team’s research Padlet wall below:

Made with Padlet

Once the teams had completed their Padlet wall, their lecturer approved the researched information in which the teams exported their digital evidence to their newly created team-based Microsoft Sway presentations. See the Green team’s amazing Sway presentation below:

Each of the teams had to take their turn in presenting their informative and creative Sway presentations, which included the other teams provided with the following paper work to complete:

Barony Campus Kirkmichael Digital Classroom Opening Event

Image above L-R: Jared Ambrozevich (SRUC Forestry student), Ali Hastie (SRUC’s e-Learning Developer), Professor Wayne Powell (SRUC’s CEO & Principle), Emma Harper (MSP), Alistair Mitchell (SRUC’s Vice-Chairman), Professor Nick Sparks (SRUC Barony Campus Dean) Euan Mckelive (SRUC Forestry student), Adrienna Quial (SRUC Forestry Student)

On Friday 15th of February 2019, the official SRUC Barony Campus kirkmichael Digital Classroom opening event took place. Guests included SRUC’s Chief executive and principle, SRUC Vice-Chairman, Dumfries and Galloway College and Emma Harper local MSP.

Professor Wayne Powell

Professor Wayne Powell started the ceremony with welcoming guests and highlighted the importance of innovation to SRUC and the power of internal and external collaboration.

Belinda Haig

Belinda Haig (SRUC’s Group Manager Information and Digital Services) started with the SRUC Learning and Teaching Digital Dream, which began with a visit at Dundee University Learning Space rooms around 20-months previously.

Belinda went onto thank the Digital Classroom committee members, the local team and especially two members of the project team (Julie Parker and Ali Hastie) for their commitment and dedication in producing a state-of-the-art room and facilities for both staff and students.

With the great success with the Digital Classroom project and the Learning Teaching collaborative projects with staff and students at Barony Campus, SRUC officially announced future Digital Classroom installations with similar technologies throughout SRUC.

Alistair Marshall

Once Alistair Marshall (SRUC Vice Chairman) officially opened the Kirkmichael Digital Classroom, with revealing the plaque, he stated: “Collaboration through technology is second nature to students at home and while studying. We need to constantly evolve to support their potential and create a world class teaching environment. The digital classroom isn’t just about today, it also reflects the working practices of tomorrow. Working with staff and students to create our first digital classroom has been brilliant and has offered us a real glimpse into the future”

Ali Hastie – e-Learning Developer

With the Kirkmichael Digital Classroom officially opened, Ali Hastie took to the lectern and presented the Kirkmichael Digital Classroom journey. Practicing what we preach surrounding the use of technologies with the students, Microsoft Sway was used to present the Kirkmichael Digital Classroom journey:

Jared Ambrozevich – SRUC Forestry student

The Advanced Certificate in Forestry students (Jared Ambrozevich, Adrianna Quail and Ewan Kckelvie) took the floor and showcased their ‘amazing’ digital evidence that they have been collaboratively working within their teams in the digital classroom. This included their high quality Tree Identification e-Portfolios within Microsoft Sway and Pests and Diseases of Trees within their team’s Padlets (online collaborative walls).

SQA, Scotland’s Universities & Colleges Meet up in the Digital Classroom

On the 28th of January 2019, the SQA (Scottish Qualifications Authority) e-Portfolio sub-group held their meeting within SRUC Barony Campuses new Digital Classroom. Members from the e-Portfolio sub-group including staff members from SQA, SPARQS (Student Partnerships in Quality Scotland), City of Glasgow College, Forth Valley College and Glasgow University.

First on the meeting agenda was the introduction to Barony’s new Digital Classroom, including how the Teammate tables and Clevertouch screens work within the room.

Second on the agenda was to showcase the work carried out on the new online Forestry Tree Identification course Unit, which has been successfully delivered to both Certificate and Advanced Certificate in Forestry students within the Digital Classroom.

Christine Wood (SQA’s Project Manager, Digital Assessment Services) stated:

‘The SRUC Barony Digital Classroom is a resource which, from demonstrations provided, appears to offer excellent learning and teaching tools, all of which are designed to enhance learner participation and collaborative learning.  The Teammate tables encourage learners to work together in small groups, linking an iPad to the table screen, and allowing individual students to take on active roles by sharing presentations on behalf of their groups.  The Clevertouch screens in the room also allow easy viewing for discussion across the groups.

One very good example of how SRUC Barony students have made use of the Digital Classroom can be found in the Forestry Tree Identification Project.  Students were able to work in teams, and compete across teams, to complete interactive drag and drop and hotspot activities relating to tree identification.  This collaborative work also involved students creating high quality Sway presentations, as formative assessment for the Certificate and Advanced Certificate in Forestry, and presenting these in the Digital Classroom using the resources available to them.’ 

With sharing best practice to the sub-group, Gordon Mcleod (Learning Technologist, Glasgow University ) has access to the Forestry student team’s (with their permission) high quality digital evidence surrounding their Tree Identification e-Portfolios in which he plans to showcase to staff and students at Glasgow University.

Advanced Certificate in Forestry (2nd Year) Students LO1 Sway Presentations

With the Barony Campus Advanced Certificate in Forestry students being delivered the online Tree Identification Unit Moodle covering Learning Outcome 1 (LO1) within the Digital Classroom with Andrew Treadaway (Forestry lecturer), the newly formed student teams progressed with their collaborative and team-based Microsoft Sway Learning Outcome (LO1) Presentations.

more “Advanced Certificate in Forestry (2nd Year) Students LO1 Sway Presentations”

Engineering Students Collaborating with Combine Harvester Simulators in the Digital Classroom

Image above: Barony Campus National Diploma Engineering Year 3 students

The Barony Campus National Diploma Engineering third year students made their way to the Kirkmichael Digital Classroom with Doug Goldie (Barony Campus Engineering Senior Instructor). Doug Goldie,  SRUC Digital Classroom project committee member, is no stranger to the Digital Classroom and its available technologies.
more “Engineering Students Collaborating with Combine Harvester Simulators in the Digital Classroom”

HND Animal Care Student Teams Collaborate in Padlet

The Barony Campus Animal Care lecturer and SRUC Digital Campus Project Committee member (Claire Hodgkins) was fully inspired after attending the Digital Classroom staff development session and gained the idea in using the Digital Classroom for her HND Animal Care students. This idea would involve teams researching, co-creating and presenting a debate for and against Zoos.

more “HND Animal Care Student Teams Collaborate in Padlet”