ATI’s e-Learning utilizes technology for teaching farming

By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao
Photos from ATI’s e-Learning website 

Due to recent technological advancements, people spend more time on their phones or computers as they go about their daily lives. They rely on the internet for news, entertainment, and even communication.

To those who know where to look, they can find a treasure trove of information about the things they want to know. And this is what Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) aims for with their e-Learning extension.  

Joeven Calasagsag talks about E-extension program for Agriculture and Fisheries during the #UrbanAgri2017.

e-Learning is a website, developed by ATI, that contains videos and downloadable modules about farming. The information present in the modules came from their in-house module writers and experts on the subject matter. 

The Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) also provides experts and information for the site’s content. 

According to Department of Agriculture’s own Joeven Calasagsag, the extension is a means to reach out and educate people about farming before really getting out there on the field.

Sowing The Seed Of Knowledge

“Agriculture is for everyone; It is for us to learn how to grow food,” Calasagsag said.

ATI’s main goal with the establishment of their e-Learning site is to continue Open Academy for Philippine Agriculture.

The Open Academy for Philippine Agriculture is a joint collaboration between government institutions to provide education, training, extension, and communication in agriculture.

It is an effort to empower agriculture groups in the country via interactive network services that give them direct access to localized agricultural information.

But despite their efforts to go online, Calasagsag said that nothing can come close to face-to-face learning and extension programs that provide live demonstrations or in-depth talks about the topics.

Targeting Farmers and Students

Originally, the site was created to help agriculture extension workers, farmers, and fishermen to get information and tips on farming.

Gradually, e-Learning has gained traction which resulted in the enrollment of several schools to the program.

Regional schools like Caraga State University, Southern Luzon State University, and Mariano Marcos State University are some of the schools in the country that are enrolled in the program.

Users who finish the course also get a certificate of completion after answering a short feedback survey on the site.

In fact, Calasagsag said that the students who are enrolled in ATI’s e-Learning system also experience a graduation of sorts after finishing the courses.

What’s Inside

ATI and the other departments made the site as user-friendly as possible. To those who are unfamiliar with the ropes, there is a clickable feature where first-time visitors can take a tour of the e-Learning website. 

The home page of ATI’s e-Learning website.

But before users can get exclusive access to e-Learning’s content, they have to register to site first. This acts as their “enrollment.” 

There are different courses on the site that which users can explore on their own. Topics there revolve around crops, livestock and poultry, fisheries, social technology, and sustainable agriculture.

Short courses that don’t need enrollment, or allow guest entry, however, don’t give out certificates once the modules are finished.

Calasagsag  said that the shortest module they have can be finished in about three to four hours (in one sitting).

While the videos remain on the site for online use, modules from some of the courses can be taken offline to be studies “at any place, any pace,” said Calasagsag.

There’s no pressure in having to finish the courses. As the tagline found on top of the website, the learning process can be done in “any place, any pace.”

An Interactive Environment

Other than the modules and informative videos that are uploaded on the site, there are also different forums where users can converse with each other.

There are different forums that users can enter to discuss a specific topic with others.

To regulate the topics being discussed in the site, there are different groups that the users can join according to their preferred topic. 

Users can choose to subscribe to news and announcements from ATI, or join the forums for crops, fisheries, and livestock. They can even enter the group where they can request a course that they want to see on the website. 

Calasagsag said that ATI has the right to facilitate and filter the conversations that are going on in the forum. If they find the post or comment irrelevant to the topics, they tend to leave it out.

The extension is a joint collaboration among different departments namely, DA, DOST-PCAARRD, and ATI as the lead branch in handling the site.

To learn more about the e-Learning extension, visit e-extension.gov.ph/elearning.