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Popular online course brings wine appreciation to world

Primary Industries

THOUSANDS of wine enthusiasts from around the world have signed up to a free online university course to learn the art of growing grapes and winemaking.

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The University of Adelaide developed the six-week online course World of Wine: From Grape to Glass at the start of 2015 and has since had more than 30,000 enrolments from 160 countries via the edX platform.

More than 90 per cent of students were from outside Australia. About 30 per cent were from the United States while China, Canada, India and the United Kingdom represented about 5 per cent of enrolments each.

A partnership brokered with China’s Tsinghua University last month is attracting thousands of enrolments through its platform XuetangX.

We wanted to take participants on a journey from the vineyard to the winery, and then to the kitchen or restaurant table

Kerry Wilkinson, Paul Grbin, Cassandra Collins and David Jeffery, from the University of Adelaide’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine developed the course in conjunction with the AdelaideX team.  

Aimed at educating beginners through to passionate wine enthusiasts, the course covers the principles and practices that underpin grape and wine production, and their impacts on wine style and sensory properties with an Australian focus.

Wilkinson said the team wanted to deliver a course at a level that didn’t require any prior knowledge of grape growing or winemaking.

“We wanted to take participants on a journey from the vineyard to the winery, and then to the kitchen or restaurant table, thereby giving them greater confidence in their ability to select and discuss wines,” she said.

“The University of Adelaide is known to be Australia’s No.1 wine education and wine research university so it was definitely something we wanted to be seen to be leading.”

The course, also known as Wine101x, encompasses short video lectures from all of the 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.

Wilkinson said the university was looking to re-launch the course next year with additional sensory components on tasting different styles of wines such as sparkling, fortifieds and dessert wines.

She said virtual field trips through vineyards in South Australia’s Barossa Valley and to winemaking operations at Yalumba were also being developed to allow students to see a commercial winery in action.

The massive online open course (MOOC) recently won the Government, Education and Non-profit category of the 2015 South Australian Interactive Media Excellence awards as well as the Best Wine Educator award from Wine Communicators of Australia. 

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