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Research Papers

Web-based teaching, learning and research using accessible real-time data obtained from field-based agrometeorological measurement systems

Published in: South African Journal of Plant and Soil
Volume 31, issue 1, 2014, pages: 13–23
DOI: 10.1080/02571862.2014.878757
Author(s): Michael J SavageAgrometeorology Discipline, Soil-Plant-Atmosphere Continuum Research Unit, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, South Africa, Michael G AbrahaAgrometeorology Discipline, Soil-Plant-Atmosphere Continuum Research Unit, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, South Africa, Nicholas C MoyoAgrometeorology Discipline, Soil-Plant-Atmosphere Continuum Research Unit, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, South Africa, Nile BabikirAgrometeorology Discipline, Soil-Plant-Atmosphere Continuum Research Unit, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, South Africa

Abstract

To enhance teaching and learning in agrometeorology and allied disciplines, a Web-based data and information system was developed. The system uses field-based agrometeorologcial measurements, from automatic weather, radiation and temperature stations, to collect and display near real-time and previous data in graphs/tables. An important feature is the display of agrometeorological data, information and graphics in the lecture room or laboratory with early-warning capability. Examples include hourly short-grass and tall-crop reference evaporation, sunshine duration, grass-surface radiation and energy balances. The system is applicable to the agricultural, earth and environmental sciences. This study presents the rationale, detail, application and evaluation of the system that is currently used by undergraduate and postgraduate students and staff, to access online data and information for lectures, tutorials, practicals, projects and research. For undergraduates, data can be extracted and manipulated, thereby reinforcing computer literacy, numeracy – including statistical ability – and graphical capabilities. The aim is to ensure that these abilities are improved with users obtaining a deeper understanding of the agroenvironment. More than 75% of respondents of an open questionnaire indicated that the graphical display of data had enabled further understanding of agroenvironmental concepts irrespective of language.

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