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Beyond the Bale : March 2018
TECH GEN LEARNS ABOUT WOOL As part of its commitment to help teach students about the unique and natural benefits of Australian wool, AWI has revamped its Learn About Wool website (first launched in 2015) to contain even more multimedia resources, lesson plans and educational experiences for teachers and students. Aligned to the Australian Curriculum, the website offers opportunities to incorporate wool into everyday classroom activities through science, design and technology, geography, history, the arts and economics and business. With engaging content relevant for students from early childhood through to senior secondary school the Learn About Wool website covers in detail the on-farm production, processing, marketing and fashion aspects of Australian wool. The website, available at www.learnaboutwool. com, was developed in conjunction with leading primary and secondary teachers and has been designed so teachers can now search for lesson plans and resources by year level, subject area and topics of interest. As well as being available as an online resource, the free and popular Learn About Wool resource kit, which includes real fibre, yarn and fabric samples, multimedia presentations, factsheets and posters, is still being delivered to schools throughout Australia. The kit was initially launched in 2013 and has proved very popular; it can be ordered at www.learnaboutwool.com. Agriculture and science teacher Nicole Entz of Coodanup College in Mandurah in WA said many of her students have little knowledge about where their everyday food and fibre products come from. “Many of the students are in small 400- 600sqm rental housing and have never even had the opportunity to own a cat or a dog and learn the basics of animal husbandry and care,” she said. “I see the Learn About Wool kit enabling me to utilise the only small agriculture area and resources that we have to help my students develop the knowledge they need to be more informed.” USING ‘VIRTUAL REALITY’ IN EDUCATION Learn About Wool was promoted at the 2018 National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) biennial conference, held in Tasmania in January and supported by AWI. Also at the conference, through the support of AWI, keynote speaker, digital marketer and immersive educator Tim Gentle of Think.Digital shared to the enthralled audience his vision of how to bridge the digital divide between the city and country by using FarmVR, a Virtual Reality App. “FarmVR is a free virtual reality agricultural experience, designed to ‘immerse’ people into various agricultural experiences so they can learn more about where their food and fibre comes from, consider agriculture as a career, and assist teachers to engage with their students in the classroom,” Tim said. “FarmVR has an array of 360-degree video and photography experiences that, when viewed in a VR headset, place the viewer into the environment. This offers a new level of engagement to the viewer; they literally feel like are standing in, for instance, the paddock or the shearing shed. “When students are immersed and engaged by such a ‘virtual field trip’, we are finding the learning outcome is so much better because the content is around them and they are fully engaged.” AWI is already involved in using virtual reality technology. For example, the company’s marketing arm The Woolmark Company has used a ‘virtual reality farm tour’ at many trade shows and retail promotions, where visitors can wear virtual reality headsets and be ‘transported’ to an Australian sheep farm to visually experience first-hand the source of Merino wool. In December last year, AWI also partnered with National Geographic to launch a virtual reality experience of explorer Pete McBride sharing the benefits of wearing Australian wool apparel on one of his adventures in Colorado. Earlier this month, AWI also released a virtual reality experience of viewing five fabric innovations from The Woolmark Company. These three virtual reality experiences can be downloaded for free from the Apple App and Google Play stores (search Woolmark VR). AWI is also looking at ways to use ‘augmented reality’ in its educational and marketing activities. Augmented reality is a related technology that superimposes a computer- generated image on a user's view of the real world, thus providing a composite view (see bottom-right image). An example of its use might be a ‘virtual dressing room’ where an online shopper can see what a (computer- generated image of a) garment would look like on the user – effectively enabling the shopper to try on clothes from home. Through an AWI augmented reality initiative, students could soon be taking a journey inside a wool fibre to explore the physical structures that make wool the world’s most versatile natural fibre. MORE INFORMATION www.learnaboutwool.com www.woolmark.com/vr www.farmvr.com.au Students from Scotch Oakburn College, Launceston, with their teacher (and wool producer) Madeleine Scott using resources from AWI’s Learn About Wool initiative. 28 OFF FARM
In the Shops - March 2018