Extension Outreach: Use of Technology in Companion Animal Biology and Nutrition

Wednesday, July 23, 2014: 2:55 PM
3501D (Kansas City Convention Center)
Lisa Karr-Lilienthal , University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE
Abstract Text:

Today’s technology has changed the way teaching and extension programs are provided and will continue to do so.  With changes in technology, we must evaluate the best practices for providing companion animal biology information to youth and students globally.  Distance education has become increasingly popular with universities and students.  Using technology effectively in the classroom should foster relationships between student and instructor to continue to provide a personal connection.  It should be easily accessed from a variety of platforms and locations.  There are many options available to educators looking to use technology. Using a combination of tools is probably most effective in student learning.  Repetition, practice, and variety of delivery methods will help to reinforce concepts students may struggle with.  Student performance in the Companion Animal Nutrition course offered at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln does not differ between online and in class sections.  However, different approaches must be taken to ensure student connections and participation.  Students tend to ask questions or for clarification less frequently in the online section. Providing clear methods to obtain feedback helps to open lines of communication. Often university teaching and outreach programs have limited personnel resources.  Technology is a key way to improve collaboration between experts at other universities and within the industry.  Online meeting rooms can increase your pool of guest speakers and decrease costs related to speaker fees for programs.  Using programs such as Adobe Connect that allow for streaming video and an audio connection will improve the learner experience.  The Companion Animal Community of Practice at eXtension.org is one way to improve collaborations among extension and outreach professionals.  The use of eXtension provides educators with a simple system for delivering online material to the general public through webinars, articles, and short courses.  Published content on eXtension is peer reviewed and is based in science.   Effective use of technology should provide ease of use, accessibility, and allow for increased target audience.  For learners to feel comfortable with technology, a sense of community should be established both for online teaching as well as online extension efforts.  Community can be developed through social media tools, discussion posts, regular communication, and videos.  Requesting feedback from the learners improves use of technology in classroom. 

Keywords: companion animal, technology, teaching, outreach