Ag in the Classroom launches electronic classroom to extend development, reach

Opportunity to share information, ideas beyond ag literacy coordinators.

Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom (IAITC) joined the educational trend of electronic classrooms and launched its own “eClassroom” in January.

By Kay Shipman

“We created an online space. This (electronic classroom) is becoming more common in education and instruction for college classes,” said Brad Banning, Illinois Farm Bureau education manager. Banning, who is developing the eClassroom, discussed its potential with county ag literacy coordinators attending a daylong workshop last week in Bloomington.

Kevin Daugherty, IFB education director, explained two goals are to provide more professional development opportunities for ag literacy coordinators around the state as well as give them an electronic space to share with each other.

The electronic classroom is still in an initial phase, but Banning shared the main sections of a blog and a book club, which launched discussion of a book about education creativity read by the coordinators.

“This is an opportunity for you to share information and ideas with one another,” Banning told the coordinators.

While IAITC offers training workshops three times a year, the electronic classroom “offers training and professional development all year long,” Banning added.

Banning envisioned the electronic classroom reaching beyond ag literacy coordinators in the future. For example, a farmer might seek ideas about how to communicate different topics to teachers. “It will be a resource for anyone who’s interested in agricultural literacy,” he said.

Taking ag to classrooms

Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom (IAITC) used a network of ag literacy coordinators to provide accurate information and educational materials to teachers and students around Illinois in 2018.

- 694,449 students in preschool through eighth grade learned about food and farms through classroom lessons.

- 41,369 teachers used free classroom resources and training.

- 77 coalitions working in 89 counties were funded in part with the support of the IAA Foundation, the charitable arm of the Illinois Farm Bureau, and the IAITC county coalition grant program.

- 3,696 accurate agriculture books were awarded to teachers.