Case Study: The Evolution Of Western Integrated Resource Education From Rural Byways To The Information Super-Highway
Western Integrated Resource Education (WIRE) began as an integrated, team-taught, farm and ranch resource
management course developed and offered by cooperative extension personnel across four western U.S. states. It has evolved into a series of online, Internet courses through more than a decade of adjustments and refinements.
WIRE courses emphasize the process of management—setting goals, priorities, making decisions, planning, budgeting, keeping records and performing evaluations with personal goals and optimization in mind—rather than particular production technologies. The process moves from strategic management outlining where the operation is headed, to tactical management comparing options for getting from “here” to “there”, to operational management where the specifics of how, when, and by whom the management plan will be accomplished.
Currently, courses use a case-study teaching approach and involves students in a number of ways: threaded discussions of course topics, management team meeting interaction on the recommendations made by team members, problem sets to practice using the worksheets and techniques presented, and learning logs to critically evaluate how the material applies to the participant and their personal situation.
Adaptation of course material continues, including: digital video, exploring new ways to engage students, improving
evaluation mechanisms, as well as overcoming the occasional “speed bump” encountered on the information highway.