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: