Present situation

During the last decade numerous authors have been talking about emerging educational tools, their potential and benefits to veterinary medicine (Murray, Sischo, 2007).  In the Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, for example, Dr. Theresa M. Bernardo wrote (Bernardo, 2006):

  • New means of collaborating to organize, share, and impart knowledge are proliferating and will be brought to bear on education, research, and service. We will have the tools at hand; we must also inculcate the necessary behaviors to operate more successfully in the future.

Today, 4 years later:

We have those tools at hand. Learning Management Systems, Personal Learning Environment, Online Video, wikis, and a whole array of online collaborative tools are here. They are more productive, more interactive than ever--and they are used by millions (sometimes hundreds of millions) of users daily.   Now teachers can collaborate on course development, share or sell courses to all members of their network.  Students can search and enroll in courses from different institutions that participate in a network.

Internet Today14 Mbit /s is 250 times faster than dial-up access using a 56k modem (56 kbit/s). 1 Gbit/s is 17,850 times faster than dial-up access using a 56k modem (56 kbit/s

Broadband Internet connection has become a standard. Even if you do not have a computer, you probably have a 3G (up to 14.0 Mbit /s ) or a 4G (up to 1 Gbit/s ) mobile phone. Those phones can be from 250 to 17,000 times faster than a dial-up connection.

Users, schools, society and government are ready. Numerous obstacles that were stopping the changes for a long time are gone.

Computer with Internet connection has become a standard tool for students.  For example, the  Veterinary School of the University of Illinois started incorporating tablet personal computers into the classroom in 2003-2004 (almost 8 years ago!). Furthermore, E-learning has become an important component of almost every veterinary student's studies in the developed world (Short et al., 2007), and Web 2.0 technologies, such as Facebook, Wikipedia or Google Apps, has become standard tools for all generations. Nearly 178 million U.S. Internet users watched online video during the December 2009 (Lipsman, 2010) and VIN has more than 42,000 users.

Government. The U.S. Department of Education stated: There has never been a more pressing need to transform American education and there will never be a better time to act (Office of Educational Technology, U.S. Department of Education, 2010).  The U.S. Department of Agriculture is creating such  projects as: Enhancing Food-Safety Education through Shared Teaching Resources (McDonald, 2008).

Action! And, most importantly, we have started making real, well-planned changes. The brilliant Vet ICE idea is a perfect example of a real change.

Therefore, just as Dr. Bernardo wrote, after having those tools at hand:

  • We must also inculcate the necessary behaviors to operate more successfully in the future.

In doing so, we must know that:

Knowledge is our goal. Information is just one of the tools we can use to nurture knowledge. With the tools we have at hand, we already share data in a fast, safe, and efficient manner, and we can store as much data as we want. We should not waste our time redesigning things we already do very well. Instead, we should use those tools to achieve our main objective >> knowledge.  Our goal should be the development of practices that will nurture knowledge for all of us.  Technology is here. Now we have to “inculcate the necessary behaviors to operate more successfully”; now we have to use the technology for benefit of our education.

Knowledge and information are two separate entities. Information is a set of data that can be easily transferred from one place to another. Knowledge is expertise and skills to do specific activities. Knowledge cannot be transferred; knowledge should be built. Knowledge-building requires: learning activities, learning objectives, and feedback (preferably human to human communication).

It is not the tool, it is the connection (Frydenberg, Walsh, 2007). Extremely powerful tools that support fast and productive collaboration and education have been in use for at least a few years.

Therefore, just as William Gibson noted, "The future is already here; it’s just not evenly distributed yet." (Gibson, 2003). In our context, that means all tools and practices we need are created; we just need to connect and distribute them in the field of veterinary education.

It is not about exchanging products, it is about constructive collaboration; it is about process. The era of a product for life is over. Nowadays, courses should be updated at least every few years (Bishop, 2007) and an university degree is just a starting point for lifelong education. Such an ever-changing, ever-progressing environment requires constructive collaboration as standard (Frydenberg, Walsh, 2007).

  • 14 Mbit /s is 250 times faster than dial-up access using a 56k modem (56 kbit/s)
  • 1 Gbit/s is 17,850 times faster than dial-up access using a 56k modem (56 kbit/s
  • For example,  a 17-year-old young man from India could easily go to a medical library and search on the Web and find all the information ever produced about an adenoidectomy. However, because  he does not have enough knowledge to understand the information,  and because there are no clear learning objectives and feedback mechanism, even all that data will not be enough to make him skilled enough to do adenoidectomy.


Case Studies