Tuesday, 11 February 2014

The Digital Rural Futures Conference: Regional Futures, Agricultural Futures and Digital Futures.

Neil Martin writes:

The Digital Rural Futures Conference will take place from 25 – 27 June 2014 at USQ Toowoomba campus. The conference will explore three themes: Regional Futures, Agricultural Futures and Digital Futures.

Opportunities and Challenges

In the second decade of the 21st Century, regional Australia is facing both opportunities and challenges.
In agriculture, new markets are emerging both domestically and in the developing world, yet farmers have to deal with the damaging and uncertain effects of climate change and bio-security threats on yields.
In our regional towns wealth is being created thanks to the resources boom, yet history tells us that the good times cannot last forever and there is a need to seek new business opportunities. Visionary thinking, coupled with an entrepreneurial spirit, offers new ways to sustain and grow regional economies, but only through education and successful business and community leadership will it be possible.
Underpinning our changing future is technology. Smart digital technologies, coupled with ubiquitous connectivity that is embedded into our daily lives, can help regional Australians solve problems and open new worlds. However, we need find ways to take advantage of these opportunities and understand what works and what does not.



The conference aims to bring together researchers, representatives from regional business, industry and agriculture and community and educational practitioners to explore three themes: Regional Futures, Agricultural Futures and Digital Futures. There will be three keynote and three invited speakers plus parallel sessions for each of the themes.
The three keynotes:
  • Dr Wendy Craik AM, Commissioner of the Productivity Commission will give the Regional Futures keynote. Dr Craik is currently overseeing a public inquiry into future options for childcare and early childhood learning in Australia.
  • Neil Gardyne  and his 13 year old son Mark will deliver the Agricultural Futures keynote. Neil runs a large farm in New Zealand and is highly innovative in his approach to farm management. Mark has designed an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle  (sometimes referred to as a drone), which allows his father to keep surveillance on 10,000 stock units of sheep and cattle.
  • Professor John Traxler is the world’s first Professor of Mobile Learning and will give the Digital Futures keynote. Based at the University of Wolverhampton in the UK, Professor Traxler has done much work to help develop and evaluate mobile learning as well as better understand it in developing world contexts.
More information on the keynotes and invited speakers is available on the conference website.


Registering for the conference and submitting an abstract

The Toowoomba conference is the second Digital Rural Futures Conference. The first was held at the University of New England in Armidale and was attended by over 150 delegates. The conference is again sponsored by the Regional Universities Network (RUN).
Registrations are now open. Further details on how to register are available on the conference website. Abstracts can be submitted until 28 February 2014 and are peer reviewed. Again, visit the conference website for information on how to submit.
The program includes optional tours to either a smart farm, astronomical observatory or Toowoomba’s new regional airport. Visit the conference program page for more information.


A Digital Rural Future

Regional Australia is facing an exciting and challenging future. This conference offers real opportunity to bring together key experts and thinkers about regional Australia. Take a look at the conference website and be part of something special.

Image credit: P1790090 by Franklin Heijnen. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) licence.

(authored by Neil Martin and originally posted on the ADFI Blog. Copied here with permission)

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