Techmode approach for distance learning courses
Prof. Prakash Lonkar
Maharashtra Animal and Fishery Sciences Universith, Seminary Hills, Nagpur, 440 006, India
Dr. Ajit Maru
Veterinarians, appointed in field, rarely get the opportunity to update their knowledge and skills, through trainings or courses, due to their working conditions. Looking to this need, the courses on Post Mortem Techniques and Diagnosis of Parasitic Diseases in Livestock were developed, based on the Need Assessment survey. The courses were developed on interactive CD ROM with audio, video clips, photographs along with some reading material. The courses were of one credit each and had minimum one face-to-face session. The response by the veterinarians was tremendous and around 210 veterinarians offered the courses by paying fees. Participants and stakeholders expressed the need for additional courses and accordingly two more courses on surgical techniques in large and small animals were launched which also received good response.
Experiences, prospects and problems of the work are discussed.
(Key words: ODL, Necropsy, veterinarians, parasitic diseases diagnosis)
Importance of Animal wealth in Indian economy is well established. Animal holders, usually small and marginal farmers and agrarians depend on field veterinarians, mostly in Government or cooperative sector for solutions to their animals' production problems.
Their linkages with the College or University are also meager. Updating their knowledge and skills, though essential, is not possible due to paucity of resources, financial crunch and their inability to remain away from their assignments for a longer period to attend face-to-face sessions.
Distance learning, through information and communication technology, was thought to be a useful tool for the same.
To understand the needs of field veterinarians, a survey was conducted where in 288 veterinarians responded. The analysis revealed the need for such courses and accordingly two courses namely.
Diagnosis of Parasitic Disease were developed
The courses were developed on Interactive CD ROM with some write up in the form on small booklet.
The course was divided in to chapters and each chapter was further subdivided in to modules. The contents in each module comprised of maximum 5-6 lines. Hyperlinks were provided in each module for the important terms/subjects/topics and details of the same were provided in the CD.
Guidelines for operating the CD were provided to the participants, though the CDs were prepared with AUTORUN. The benefit of the CD is its Pedagogy, where in one can select and shift to the chapter he wishes. He can also select the topics/modules/illustrations and videos.
Standard formats for recording the postmortems and for submission of the materials to various laboratories are also provided.
Model questions, with options are also provided. The examination is developed keeping in view the online programmes.
The courses were offered to the qualified veterinarians with registrations by VCI. The courses, though prepared with an objective of online availability, initially were launched at two places with a total of 210 participants, on payment of feed of Rs. 500/- for each course. Most of the participants were able to open the CD and try to understand about the compatibility of the computer programmes. All the difficulties and queries were answered through phone or Email. Two face-to-face sessions were conducted for the participants where they asked the questions, even not related to the course. Out of 210, 140 participants appeared for the examinations, mid term and final, with total 100 marks of objective type. After the initial success and assessment, two additional courses, namely
Surgical techniques in Large Animals and
Surgical techniques in Small Animals were developed.
They were also appreciated by the stake holders.
Development of the faculty suitable for developing such courses.
Awareness amongst the staff and participants regarding the use of ICT.
Confidence amongst the staff and participants for having access to communicate with each other for a common cause and medium.
Feeling of being a part of the system, inspite of leaving the college, by the participants.
Development of linkages and clients-all students-which may further help in numerous collaborative projects.
Participants expressed the views for new courses and suggested even the topics.
Non-availability of computer at some places.
Paucity and unsuitable time for using office computers.
Phobia for computers, especially in the senior participants.
Mentality for asking benefits
Apathy by some, thinking of no loss if not participated- Why to do?
Inability to express the needs by some people-shy of expressing the difficulties etc. mostly due to age, experience and authority.
Face to face session is not possible if sufficient number of participants is not available.
Chances of missing the sessions or examinations due to transfer, family or personal problems and official assignments.
Modified courses will have to be provided to the participants regularly, as they are not online.
Suggested solutions and plans
To have the courses and admissions online so that the participants may register at any time and they may appear for examination after stipulated period (12 weeks)
The courses when kept online-modifications would be easy.
Contact point for face-to-face sessions can be many, at all the veterinary colleges of the Maharashtra Animal and Fishery Sciences University and students may come there as per need with prior intimation and appointment.
Examination would be online-may be at various centers. (Examiner as centre)
As has been observed, many of the field veterinarians rarely get a chance for upgrading to advancement of his knowledge and skills. He may get this opportunity. Incentive can be in the form on certificate and participants completing stipulated number of courses may be awarded suitable diploma etc.
Administration should encourage the acquired additional qualification /certificates /skills and desire to learn and acknowledge and reward them by some incentives.
Basic computer knowledge-certificate by an authorized agency- Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation Limited- is compulsory for the Government staff, same pattern maybe used for the field veterinarians also.
Major concern may be the quality of the course materials. Continuous monitoring, up gradations and evaluations of the same is essential where in very few experts are available.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Authors are thankful to the Commonwealth of Learning for financial and technical help and authorities of Bombay Veterinary College and Maharashtra Animal & Fishery Science University for encouragement and the facilities.