Question: What is FarmChat™?
Answer: FarmChat™ is a unique program that utilizes
technology (Skype, FaceTime and other software platforms) to bring
the farm experience directly into school classrooms. Using a lap
top at the school and a mobile device at the farm, students connect
with and directly speak with the farmer. Students can see the farm
and ask the farmer questions. They can even virtually ride along in
the combine or tour a livestock barn all from the safety and
security of their classroom.
Question: Why FarmChat™?
- No transportation needed = Cost savings
- Less time away from school
- Many working farms not set up for fieldtrips (safety issues
and other logistical issues like bathrooms create
- It is very easy to reschedule if for any reason there is a
- Allows you to focus the experience and the student
- There are fewer distractions for students and learning time
- Students can see and experience things that they could not
during a class fieldtrip to a farm
- Provides real-world connections to the Iowa Core.
Question: Who can do FarmChat™?
Answer: Anyone! The beauty of the program is that
it is simple, easy, and only relies on connectivity of a cellular
network. FarmChat™ programs can be initiated by farmers interested
in sharing what they do. They can be initiated by teachers wanting
to teach their students about crops and livestock. Or they can be
initiated by community groups or volunteers.
Question: What are some Tips for Success?
- Be sure to have a structured outline of the program. Work
with the teacher to develop it. Ask yourself these
- What do students want to know?
- What topics and skills are the students learning in
school? (consider math, science, and social studies
- What will the farmer talk about and when?
- How can I minimize down time during transitions
(i.e. moving from the hog barn to the machine
- How much time should we leave for questions?
- Have your software of choice downloaded on the mobile
device at the farm as well as on the computer in the classroom.
We recommend Skype, but there are several others that can work
- A cellular connection on farm end is better than hotspot or
- A hardwired connection at the school ensures the best
quality connection as opposed to a wireless connection
- Test the connection prior to class participation
- Test while on location if you are at all worried
about the cellular connection. Metal barns and
background noise from animals or equipment affect the
quality of the connection,
- Do a dry run with the teacher, especially if they
are not familiar with Skype
- Decide on who calls who and at what time
- It is best to have a camera person holding the phone or
iPad at the farm, so that the farmer can focus on the
presentation and talking with the students
- The person filming should get comfortable with iPad or
- Know microphone and camera locations (make sure you
don’t cover them up with a finger)
- Keep the mic away from wind
- When filming, keep your back to sun
- Hold the device landscape for wider view
- Move the device slowly
- Position the school computer at the students’ height so
they can speak and look directly into the camera.
- Use eternal speakers on school-end so you can better
control the volume in the classroom
- Have younger students prepare questions in advance or
whisper questions to the teacher before asking their
- Keep the program to 20 minutes for grades K-2. Keep the
program between 20 and 35 minutes for grades 3 and up.