21-23 June 2021 at Teagasc Ballyhaise Agricultural College, Cavan, Ireland
The European Seminar on Extension and Education (ESEE) is a group of educators and advisors who hold a biennial conference and publish a Journal on topics related to agricultural extension and education.
LEARNING FOR LIFE
Continuous innovation support through extension and education for sustainable farm communities.Innovation is supported by the ongoing learning, actions and interactions of individuals, groups and communities which result in better decisions and actions which are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. Agricultural advisors and teachers are key enablers of this on-going learning environment.
Keynote speaker: Professor Jim Kinsella, UCD, Ireland
Conference session themes
DIGITAL DELIVERY OF ADVICE AND EDUCATION: WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED FROM THE DISRUPTED NORM?
Remote delivery of advice and learning has accelerated as a result of Covid 19. We have faced the challenges of restricted movements and gatherings and adopted many new digital interfaces. Have we left people behind? What about hard-to-reach-farmers? How do students/farmers feel about remote/virtual delivery? Have advisors and educators adapted to the technology, do they have the competencies/skills needed? Is remote learning/extension effective? Are there issues of access to remote learning? Are farmers being left behind? Advisors/educators? Students? What are we learning about the competencies they need to facilitate remote learning? What are the implications for future delivery of advice/education?
THE EVOLVING ROLES OF ADVISORS AND EDUCATORS IN SUPPORTING LEARNING
In times of new societal expectations and ecological challenges, farmers must maintain existing skills and acquire new ones to improve their farm sustainably. Farming communities are also changing: higher education, bigger farms, more employees, new entrants… Hence, as advisors and educators, they will require more than a technical specialist, but also someone to facilitate peer-to-peer learning, the acquisition of new skills and competences, and the creation of new links and networks within extended value chains, throughout the farmer’s career. The roles of agricultural advisors and educators will therefore evolve to respond to increasingly complex challenges from practice. Also, services are now supplied by a very broad range of organisations. In turn, the profession, organisations and boundaries of advisory activities are the matter of debate between farmers’ representatives, advisors, and policy makers.
How do advisors and educators shape and master such changes? Do they need new competencies to support the drive for sustainability? Are they receiving adequate support in fields such as digital, social innovation, co-design, interactive innovation, Living Labs…? How can they accelerate their acquisition of soft skills and leadership skills to facilitate farmers making the transition to more sustainable production and business models? What new approaches and insights for life-long learning of advisors and educators are emerging? What policies, programmes and instruments are available or needed to support advisors and educators, how effective and efficient are they in this regard? Who delivers the training for advisors and objectives and contents for educators? What are the effects of certification schemes implemented by public actors or by advisors’ professional associations (e.g. CECRA, etc.)? What is the influence of the structure of the supply of services and relations between organisations (competition, networks, R&D projects) on the quality of services?
LIFELONG LEARNING. ENCOURAGING AND FACILITATING CONTINUOUS LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT BY RURAL INDIVIDUALS, HOUSEHOLDS, AND COMMUNITIES
The traditional approach to education need to evolve from being a concentrated period at the start of a career to one where all rural stakeholders can avail of education throughout their lives. What examples or models of continuing professional development (CPD) for farmers exist, in different countries? How can educators evolve their programmes and delivery models to meet changing needs? How can educators fully leverage the benefits of diversity and inclusion in developing their offering? How can farmers get the type of education or advice they need at the time they need it? How do we ensure that we deliver the type of education they need as well as education that might be commercially popular? How can educators and advisors help knowledge sharing and innovation within agriculture during generational change?
Can we further reduce any duality/separation between extension and education? How can we create a seamless experience for farmers so that they maintain contact with advisors and educators throughout their careers? Are new structures needed to develop this integrated delivery of knowledge and skills over decades? Will there be new arenas for this learning? How can communities of learning be encouraged and facilitated within the agricultural knowledge networks?
EVALUATION AND IMPACT ASSESSMENT OF AG. EDUCATION AND INNOVATION SUPPORT MODELS
Assessing agricultural education programmes delivery, pathways and their impacts within the AKIS and at farm level is fundamental to support agricultural development and innovation. This includes three main areas of evaluation to which the papers are welcome to contribute.
Assessing Ag. education programmes: How to assess agricultural education programmes delivery and pathways and their impacts at farm level, on farmers, on farm households? What can we learn from other sectors such as, vocational, higher level and post graduate: are there benchmarks? What are the best forms and approaches to such evaluation and experiences from practitioners? What impact education pathways can be applied by agricultural schools? To what extent can evaluation models be used to support the strengthening of links between schools and practice? How can digital technology contribute to the delivery and impact of education programmes?
Assessing Ag. Advisory/extension programmes: At the centre of the AKIS/AIS concept is the idea that it functions by a complex and systemic interactions of many actors and infrastructures. As a result, assessing /evaluating advisory or extension programmes needs to focus as much on how to capture this complexity and how they can influence the AKIS and different actors within the AKIS as much as on the programme itself. This need is amplified by the fact that most programmes or projects need interaction with other AKIS actors to achieve their own objectives, outcomes and impacts. How are agricultural advisory/extension programmes being assessed in this context? Moreover, as we move towards more interactive innovation supports based on peer to peer interactions, co-creation and multi actor networks how can we assess advisory competencies and performances? What evaluation approaches/methods are used to enhance capacities to tailor advisory and extension models to the actual needs of farmers? How are clients included in the evaluation/assessment process?
Assessing farmers capacities: The basis of all development and innovation support activities is the capacities of clients/farmers. If support agencies understand these capacity requirements, they can provide more tailored and targeted support. Also, new policy frameworks and farming systems models are boosting engagement of farmers and rural residents in a process of learning. How to capture evidence of participation and of capacity development? How does learning take place? Which learning pathways can be observed? Which evaluation models can support increasing farmers’ attitudes and capabilities for better empowerment/ownership within innovation processes? How do we engage those who are not regularly or formally involved with extension and education services? Are there success stories which can encourage a more proactive approach?