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‘The Agriculturist’ goes digital; AEC breaks new ground with magazine app

‘The Agriculturist’ goes digital; AEC breaks new ground with magazine app

Digital publications – publications that can be downloaded via an app on tablets and smartphones – are on the rise. Last year Adobe Systems reported that the total number of digital publications downloaded has doubled to 150 million compared to 2012. Recognizing the growing trend, Texas Tech’s Department of Agricultural Education and Communication is launching a mobile app version for the spring 2014 issue of The Agriculturist, its student-led magazine.

“We want our agricultural communication students to graduate with the most cutting-edge skillset possible,” said David Doerfert, agricultural communications professor. “Mobile publications are the latest trend in the industry that our degree program is responding to.”

Each semester, students enroll in ACOM 4310: Development of Agricultural Publications, to produce a magazine from start to finish. The course serves as a capstone where students can utilize the skills they fostered through their undergraduate coursework.

“In this first attempt at designing for mobile devices, I kept the class focused on designing for the iPad using a minimum of interactive features,” Doerfert said. “In future semesters, I’ll expand the number of interactive features as well as the type of mobile devices the students design for.”

While digital publications have a number of benefits, increased interactivity has proven to increase reader engagement. With digital publications, readers can enjoy slideshows, videos, hyperlinks and more. Readers can also easily share their favorite articles on social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. Not to mention that the magazine is easily accessible on your mobile device wherever you go. All these features increase the difficulty of designing the final product.

Typically, the print version of The Agriculturist has a circulation of 4,700 to departmental alumni, as well as current and prospective students with a potential reach of more than 12,000. With the addition of the digital version of The Agriculturist, Doerfert said the reach and circulation of the magazine has the potential to grow seven-fold, to the entire College of Agricultural Science and Natural Resources and beyond. For the foreseeable future, he plans to have his students create both the print and mobile device versions of the magazine.

Written by Faith Jurek

CONTACT: David Doerfert, Professor of Agricultural Communications and Graduate Studies Coordinator, Department of Agricultural Education & Communications, Texas Tech University at at (806) 834-4477 or

Editor’s Note: To access the Spring 2014 edition of The Agriculturist via iTunes, click

To help improve the digital version of The Agriculturist for future editions by participating in this short survey, go to


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