Enhancing academic work through the synergy between teaching in Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and SPARKLE moodle platform

In the Department of Agricultural Economics, in Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, issues related to Agricultural Extension and particularly to the Advisory Work in Modern Agriculture are taught both in postgraduate and undergraduate level. While COVID-19 causes significant changes in the educational process and distance learning courses are considered necessary the SPARKLE e-learning platform (http://sparkle-project.eu/moodle/) has been used as part of the academic material for the courses a) NO106Y “Introduction to Agricultural Extension” (5 ECTS) and b) AOA104 “Advances in Agricultural Extension” (10ECTS). The aim of the first course (undergraduate) is to introduce students to basic concepts and roles of extension as well as develop some analytical skills in addressing extension problems while the aim of the second (postgraduate) course is to analyze linkages and enhance positive attitude towards collaboration with various stakeholders involved in the process especially researchers and farmers and to identify and analyze problems related to extension. Special emphasis has been given to modern agricultural practices including precision farming and ICTs in Agriculture. More than 40 undergraduate students plus 15 postgraduate students have been registered in SPARKLE moodle platform and participated in the course four general areas (Sustainable Precision Agriculture Overview, Technology, Social and Economic Aspects and Entrepreneurship in Farming) and twelve lessons in total (Introduction to SPA, Variable and Systems, Positioning Systems, Proximal Sensing, Variable Rate Technology, Data Analysis, Communications, Policy and Management, Entrepreneurship in SPA and a Toolkit for Agripreuners 4.0). The e-learning moodle SPARKLE course “Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Precision Agriculture” covers almost 50% of the respective educational material enhancing the academic work through important synergies between university teaching and ERASMUS+ research. The results so far are very encouraging and demonstrate the great value of the SPARKLE platform’s material, especially in this difficult COVID-19 time.