Ground Cover Supplement : GC Supplement - Partners in grain
Sharon Honner Face-to-face meetings will always be part of the learning process, especially while internet connections remain elusive for some rural communities, but the participants really liked the benefits the web room added to the learning experience EDUCATION 'Ag girls' embrace group learning The Hilltown Ag Girls jokingly refer to themselves as HAGs, but behind the quip is a serious determination to get to grips with even the most complex aspects of farming and farm management. The HAGs are a group of young women living on farms in the mid-north of South Australia. Their involvement in farming ranges from interested partner, to fully involved business partner. The group came together to learn more about farm business management and the technical aspects of modern cropping systems. Although some simply want to be more informed, to be able to understand and speak the language of farming, others want to increase their skilled contribution to their farming business. "The diverse range of abilities and interests in the group helps us learn from each other as well as from the presenters," says Marina Aucote, who has been involved with HAGs for the past year. Marina grew up on a farm, but when she started doing the books for the farming business shared with her husband Matt, she found she was poorly informed and had little idea about items being purchased. While Marina and Matt own just 60 hectares, they lease a further 200ha, all of which is cropped: "With the group, I have learnt about soils, crop nutrition, crop rotations and variety choice, and we also attended the Hart Field Day," she says. In the coming year, the group plans to take on grain marketing and risk management. Marina's involvement with HAGs has helped her discuss the farm business with her husband, and she has also been able to share information that is new to him. "Being part of a like-minded group is really beneficial, and together we build our knowledge, skills and confidence, which is not only good for our self-esteem but for our families, our businesses and the community as a whole." More information: Marina Aucote, 08 8845 8008, firstname.lastname@example.org inTeracTiVe WeB-conFerencing oFFers some wonderful opportunities for geographically dispersed rural people. But like a lot of new technologies, the set-up phase can be a test of patience, as the south australian partners in grain (ping) reference group – and two other groups who offered to trial new technologies for learning – discovered. however, once the system is operating, conferencing takes on a whole new dimension. imagine you are in a meeting with up to 30 other people, with a facilitator and a presenter. You are shown powerpoint slides, issues are written on a white board, and you ask questions and share thoughts with other participants – except they are not sitting next to you. They could be in another state, even another country, because this meeting is occurring in a ‘web room’. rather than spending time, energy and costly fuel to travel to a meeting, web rooms offer individuals the chance to participate fully in a meeting without leaving their home or office computer. according to sharon honner, chair of the sa ping reference group, activities run in web rooms can be more productive than face-to-face encounters because multiple participants are able to work on active documents. “at the end of the meeting you not only have decisions or agreement, you can also have the report or paperwork completed and circulated,” sharon says. The sa groups trialled the centra system used by the school of the air and interwise. Basically, both systems offer the same facilities. interwise is able to connect more people (30 compared with 10 for centra) and was found to be a little more interactive, while the centra system was better for those on dial-up internet connections. sharon reports that patience was required for setting up both systems, as security settings on individual computers, operating systems (Vista versus Windows Welcome to the web room OPPORTUNITIES FOR ONLINE LEARNING ARE RAPIDLY BECOMING MORE AVAILABLE TO RURAL PARTICIPANTS GROUND COVER PARTNERS IN GRAIN 8 Marina Aucote takes notes during a presentation by New Zealand cereal disease expert Nick Poole to members of Partners in Grain and Hilltown Ag Girls at the Hart Field Day.
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