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Industry staff log-on to hone wine craft

Education

WINE industry workers looking to broaden their knowledge of the craft are flocking to enrol in a free online university course from South Australia.

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A new version of the University of Adelaide’s World of Wine: From Grape to Glass course was launched this month on its AdelaideX platform and already has 10,000 enrolments following the success of last year’s inaugural course, which attracted almost 40,000 students from 160 countries via the edX platform.

The free six-week MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) is aimed at educating beginners through to passionate wine enthusiasts and covers the principles and practices that underpin grape and wine production and their impacts on wine style and sensory properties with an Australian focus.

Associate Professor of Oenology at the University of Adelaide Kerry Wilkinson said a large number of industry workers in non-winemaking roles such as food technologists, wine marketers and sommeliers had enrolled in the course from a wide range of countries including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia.

“That’s been really interesting to see that engagement and it’s great that we’re having that influence globally,” she said.

“We thought our target audience last year was going to be the average wine consumer and we totally missed that there is a lot of people who work in the industry, whether it’s in administrative roles or cellar door, so we ended up with a lot of people who were working in the industry but didn’t have any formal qualifications.”

The inaugural course, also known as Wine101x, received the Best Wine Educator award from Wine Communicators of Australia in November.

The new course, similar to the first one, requires about 2-3 hours study a week for its six-week duration. It encompasses short video lectures from University of Adelaide team members, video interviews with industry professionals, interactive activities such as a virtual winemaking app, discussion forums and several assessment tasks to evaluate learning. It also includes new features such as sensory videos to evaluate different wine styles and additional content on canopy management.

“But our biggest accomplishment is we’ve put a field trip in. Essentially it’s a three dimensional map of the Yalumba Winery (in the Barossa Valley) and you can click on different buildings and that launches a video to show what goes on in that particular location,” Assoc Prof Wilkinson said.

“It covers harvesting out in the vineyard through to the weighbridge, the laboratory, the cooperage where barrels are made, the wine tasting room, the bottling facility, the white and red cellars, the barrel hall and the nursery.

“It brings everything that we’ve talked about throughout the course together and lets people see how it looks in a commercial setting.”

The new course launched on July 7 and already has enrolments approaching 10,000. The major countries represented so far are the United States (28 per cent, Australia (6 per cent), Canada, India, Brazil and the United Kingdom (all four per cent).

 “With the enrolments we’ve got in the new course I’ve been really surprised with the number of people from the industry saying ‘I’m working in a marketing role or a food and wine role and I’m doing the course to gain confidence in what I’m doing in my career,” Assoc Prof Wilkinson said.

“We’ve found a lot of cellar door managers who wanted their staff to be able to talk the talk but rather than then trying to train a handful of staff they said they wanted them to do this course.”

South Australia is consistently responsible for almost 50 per cent of Australia’s annual production.

There are 18 wine regions in South Australia, including the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, Adelaide Hills, Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale, Limestone Coast and Riverland.

Since its launch, the university’s AdelaideX offering has released seven MOOCs on topics from across the university curriculum, including both live classes, and on-demand courses which students can enrol in at any time.

The most popular course so far is Introduction to Project Management, which has attracted more than 100,000 students from 200 countries in just five months.

South Australia’s capital Adelaide has three long-standing public universities, Flinders UniversityUniversity of South Australia, and the University of Adelaide, each of which are consistently rated highly in the international higher education rankings.

This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia, a news service providing stories about innovation in South Australia. Please feel free to use the story in any form of media. The story sources are linked in with the copy and all contacts are willing to talk further about the story.

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