Insect studies go online
South Australians working in the pest management, quarantine or science teaching fields have the opportunity to build their knowledge of insects thanks to a new online course involving the University of Adelaide.
Five universities across Australia - including Adelaide - have collaborated to develop an online entomology curriculum which is helping to meet national demand for skills in the biosecurity and biodiversity sectors.
The curriculum includes mini lectures on insect physiology, insect identification and pest management that can be downloaded on MP3 players, as well as comprehensive websites where students can view interviews with experts and complete the learning activities required.
Dr John Jennings from the University of Adelaide's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences said the online courses would provide flexible, non-award study options for people working in the industry who wished to improve their skills and knowledge base. The courses also give existing undergraduate, third-year science students access to a wider range of entomology subjects.
"It is important we raise the profile of entomology education in Australia because insects are important carriers of disease, crop pollinators, parasites and predators of pests and indicators of environmental change," Dr Jennings said. "They have an enormous impact on our environment, our health and the world economies."
The new Entomology Curriculum Australia is on offer from the first semester in 2010 and includes a series of online subjects focused on all aspects of insects, including physiology, identification, pest management, biosecurity, insect-plant interactions, taxonomy, diseases and tropical entomology.
"Entomology is becoming an increasingly important field in Australia, yet we are in danger of not meeting national demand for experts in this area. By collaborating across all states and offering flexible, online courses we believe we can answer this need," Dr Jennings said.
The only subject that requires partial attendance is an insect identification and taxonomy course offered jointly by the University of Adelaide and University of Queensland. Students must attend a five-day residential course which alternates between the two universities each year. This year it is offered in Queensland.
The other tertiary institutions involved in developing the online entomology curriculum are the universities of Charles Sturt, New England and Western Australia.
Funding for the project has been provided by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council.
For more information about the online courses visit: www.entomology.edu.au/entomology-uni
Story by Candy Gibson