Ohio State professor improves virtual learning in a hands-on world

Learning “virtually” has become pretty standard for kids in all levels of education. At first, teachers simply had to figure out how to use the technology to continue the learning experience but, as time went on, the challenge evolved from just getting students connected to getting them engaged. That is easier said than done when it comes to communicating through a computer screen.

“As we began preparing for classes in the fall and spring, we really started to think about how we might take advantage of this new way of teaching and try to show students the things that we would normally be able to show them,” said Dr. Andrew Bowman, associate professor at The Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “With the online environment, we are now getting out and recording videos that really immerse them in the experience of what they are learning about.”

Dr. Andrew Bowman and goats
Bowman has recently found himself in a pig pen, a barn of party hat-donning goats and even venturing through a grocery store. Although the interactive videos Bowman is putting together can’t replace that in-person classroom environment, the response has been positive.

Bowman’s classes, when conducted in the lecture hall, are typically very hands-on, and going online has been a hurdle that he and many professors have been dealing with. To overcome those challenges, Bowman has recently found himself in a pig pen, a barn of party hat-donning goats and even venturing through a grocery store. Although the interactive videos Bowman is putting together can’t replace that in-person classroom environment, the response has been positive.

“Students have told me they are enjoying it and they feel much more engaged,” Bowman said. “It also has an advantage from the standpoint that we can pause these videos at certain points and pose some important questions and give them a chance to really think about what they’re learning as they prepare for their careers.”

The videos cover a wide range of topics from disease prevention, control and eradication to food safety and regulatory veterinary medicine. Students are also learning about the many roles veterinarians play in society, from companion animals, to farm animals and the food production system as a whole.

“We have also changed how students are being tested because we are not just giving them the usual midterm finals,” Bowman said. “We are now giving them group projects where they have to apply the knowledge they are picking up through these videos and throwing them into real life scenarios where they can put themselves in the shoes of a practicing veterinarian.”

Bowman said he sees opportunities with this type of learning continuing in the future, even as the world gets back to having students in the classroom. By integrating these videos into the lesson plans, students will have yet another way to absorb the information they’ll need in order to be successful.

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