Veterinary Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Accelerating the Inevitable
Dr. Roger Schank stated that “There are only two problems in education:
What we teach, and how we teach.” He also said “Learning occurs when
someone wants to learn, not when someone wants to teach.” In veterinary
education there are not many questions about what should be taught,
however, in most cases, we do not even discuss how it should be taught.
As already exposed, the majority of veterinary schools develop few
activities that place the student as the protagonist of their learning;
that is, methodologies that encourage the student to want to learn are
not used, we are only focused on what we are going to teach.
All considered, it is quite evident that in order to develop skills and
competencies necessary for a veterinarian, in-service learning is
essential; however, the current situation has forced us to social
isolation, and veterinary services that are developed in our schools of
veterinary medicine, were suspended. Faced with this new reality, we
must reinvent ourselves. According to several accepted and consolidated
concepts, events that force us to leave our comfort zone will be more
and more frequent, which is why there is an understanding of the
so-called VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity)
As stated by Kevin Carey: “Nobody planned for an abrupt mass migration
of traditional college courses to the internet. But because of
coronavirus, that’s where we are.” This means that we must rethink our
practices to keep education active, viable, working. The future is not
predictable; are these activities that we are developing now,
sustainable in the medium term? Do these practices lead to student
engagement? At least one certainty arises from these questions: we have
to start taking steps to keep the “gear” of veterinary medical education
spinning, so we have to experiment, exchange experience (learn from the
mistakes of others), not “reinvent the wheel.” We should look for
practices that are already working and establish collaboration networks.
The rethinking of education involves not trying to replicate the
face-to-face class to be transmitted by computer; the screen time is
truly different from the seat time. We are dealing with emergency remote
education; it is not a matter of transposing the classroom into
distance education. It is important to make it clear that the teacher
remains a key player in the development of the learning process;
however, as the process of digital transformation is inevitable, we need
to work on our adaptation. In short, we must change our learning
paradigm in addition to complying with the established content.
The attempts that we must make to rethink education must undergo
incremental changes and experimentation with new methodologies. The
moment calls us to explore possibilities by taking advantage of
opportunities to combine different practices, encourage students'
autonomy (working with synchronous and asynchronous moments) and take
the opportunity to work with methodologies that are not often used, such
as projects and design thinking. That is, we work remotely with active
methodologies where the student becomes the protagonist of his learning.
Finally, it is quite evident, as already described, that many skills
and competencies necessary for professional practice can only be
developed with in-service learning, but many others, also essential for
professional practice, can be worked using different tools, even remote
ones. Thus, the current moment should be seen by us, educators, with
resilience and as a great opportunity to rethink our way of teaching,
giving students an example of how we should act in the face of volatile,
unpredictable, complex and ambiguous situations.