CIVME Editorial

Veterinary Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic - Accelerating the Inevitable

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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) future.

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.