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Going the Distance with Agricultural Education

 LifeKnowledge Spotlight: Exploring and Preparing for Careers Through Technology

Agriculture programs all over the country are keeping up with the times and infusing technology into their classrooms. Heidi Lanning, agriculture education instructor and FFA advisor at Eaton High School in Eaton Colo., is doing an exceptional job in being an advocate for her students and bringing technology into their learning environment.

“Technology is vital to learning in my classroom. We utilize technology in various areas for student learning, research and implementation,” said Lanning, who has been in the classroom for six years.

Recently Eaton’s program was able to purchase an LCD projector that mounts on the wall and will be used to project DVDs, computer presentations and multimedia sound. “We were also able to purchase FLIP devices to utilize for student video projects through their Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) programs.” (FLIP devices are hand-held video recorders, making it easy to record, copy and publish video.)

She explains that the students also learn to use technology to enhance their FFA program through creating presentations, taking and editing pictures and creating videos and blogs. One issue with technology is the ongoing debate about whether technology enhances or decreases classroom productivity. “Technology when working effectively enhances student learning, however there is a fine line where technology can decrease student productivity especially when technology is not functioning and students have to wait for the technology to work properly,” Lanning said.

Positive aspects of technology include students’ ability to stay engaged and increase their retention through visual and auditory media.  “Technology allows me to reach several types of learners at once in ways that best suit their needs,” she said.

When asking Lanning why it is important to use technology in the classroom, she responds, “Technology in the classroom reaches students that maybe difficult to reach or to relate to.  The use of technology in my classroom has enabled me to reach all learners.  I have also been able to use our school website for blogs and online quizzes to promote student learning.”

Lanning blends the facilitating of leadership, personal growth and career success into all aspects of her classroom including the use of technology. “The LifeKnowledge resources allow agriculture educators to utilize technology to equip students with the soft-skills employers desire.  Students need to be taught the skills that come with utilizing technology properly in life.  They need to learn how to use technology with etiquette, social consequence and what the proper means to use technology are,” Lanning said.

Among those LifeKnowledge resources is a new online feature, the Career Success Modules. Through LK Online, Lanning has assigned these modules to her students. “I discovered the modules at the National FFA Convention,” she said. They are included in every subscription to LK Online. “I decided to have my students go through the modules to gain skills that would prepare them for their future career.”

The course can be completed independently and will teach students the basics related to various skills that they will need to get a job and function in a career, as well as the steps they can take to help them advance in their selected career.

Lanning assigned the modules to her students for a grade. After everyone had completed them, they talked about what career pathways they were interested in and what steps they should be taking to get into the various career paths. The career success self-paced module is designed with student engagement in mind. Students will keep an electronic journal and play interactive games to check their understanding of the topics, and they can also view videos on various career-related subjects. The course contains eight lessons that students can work on wherever they have access to the Internet.

“The modules were useful because the students were able to explore more career areas and learn about the training and preparation involved.” After using the modules once, Lanning is hoping to use them again in the future.

View the module titles and topics.