A Model of Virtual Crop Labs as a Cloud Computing Application for Enhancing Practical Agricultural Education
A model of crop specific virtual labs is proposed to improve practical agricultural education by considering the agricultural education system in India. In agricultural education, the theoretical concepts are being imparted through class room lectures and laboratory skills are imparted in the dedicated laboratories. Further, practical agricultural education is being imparted by exposing the students to the field problems through Rural Agricultural Work Experience Program (RAWEP), experiential learning and internships. In spite of these efforts, there is a feeling that the level of practical skills exposed to the students is not up to the desired level. So we have to devise the new ways and means to enhance the practical knowledge and skills of agricultural students to understand the real-time crop problems and provide the corrective steps at the field level. Recent developments in ICTs, thus, provide an opportunity to improve practical education by developing virtual crop labs. The virtual crop labs contain a well organized, indexed and summarized digital data (text, photograph, and video). The digital data corresponds to farm situations reflecting life cycles of several farms of different crops cultivated under diverse farming conditions. The practical knowledge of the students could be improved, if we systematically expose them to virtual crop labs along with course teaching. We can employ cloud computing platform to store huge amounts of data and render to students and other stakeholders in an online manner.
KeywordsIT for agriculture education agro-informatics virtual crop labs decision support system
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