TTU Animal Welfare Expert Develops Virtual Reality Modules for Student Learning and Development | KLBK | KAMC


AMARILLO and LUBBOCK, Texas (press release) – The following is a press release from Texas Tech University:

Virtual reality (VR) has taken the world by storm. Technology allows people to have simulated experiences that replicate real-life scenarios. It allows a person to interact, watch, and move around in an artificial world that looks a lot like reality.

VR technology is most commonly used for games. But this use only scratches the surface of its capabilities. It can be used as a tool to enrich learning and teaching methods by allowing people to enter an artificial world and gain valuable experience.

Nichole Anderson, Assistant Professor of Animal Welfare, continues a project she started at the University of Missouri that gives the Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo the opportunity to implement virtual reality in the learning and student success.

Anderson received a grant of $ 260,000 from the Higher Education Challenge (HEC) program of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for his project titled “Using Virtual Reality to Increase Student Understanding and Interest in the welfare of farm animals ”.

Anderson is joined by Christopher Byrd of North Dakota State University. Together, they will study an additional mechanism for students to gain on-farm experience through virtual reality mods, created by a virtual reality company called Be More Colorful, focusing on pig and dairy production systems, and the welfare issues they might encounter while working in the livestock industry.

“Why not find a way to use virtual reality to help teach students? Anderson said. “Virtual reality is becoming common practice in medical education, but has barely been used in agriculture. Virtual reality will allow students to access an environment regardless of distance, weather, experience, biosecurity, or any other factor that might make it difficult to visit in real life. I am delighted to be able to present to the students these real situations with real farms in a virtual environment.

Anderson and Byrd have three goals for the project. The first is to create, develop and evaluate the use of virtual reality modules in an entry level course to increase students’ interest and understanding of pig and dairy production systems. Second, they will create, develop and evaluate the use of virtual reality-based animal welfare case studies that can be introduced into higher level courses in animal welfare, synthetic production or first year graduate / veterinary course.

Finally, they will provide training opportunities for teachers related to animal sciences in other US institutions to use and evaluate the success of virtual reality modules in their own classrooms.

“We are so lucky that Dr. Anderson is joining our school. She immediately launched her animal welfare research program, including projects on heat stress and pain management and their impact on livestock, while continuing her passion for teaching on topics related to animal welfare, ”said Thu ‘Annelise’ Nguyen, associate dean. for research and professor of toxicology. “This award validates his interest in advancing animal welfare education and improving management practices and subsequently in providing good care and reducing stress and pain in animals.”

Anderson wasted no time getting the project started in the next phase. A prototype module, which takes a person on an immersive journey through hog and dairy farms, has been developed. Now, this prototype is being presented to different pig and dairy productions so that they can start partnering with farms to develop more succinct modules that will help students have the best possible opportunity to engage virtually in an environment of production and animal welfare.

Anderson’s innovation paves the way for the future of learning. As the next steps unfold, Anderson will continue to use cutting-edge technology to combine his animal welfare expertise with student learning and experience so that students have a chance to achieve excellence.

About the School of Veterinary Medicine

Thanks to the generosity of Amarillo and communities across Texas, and the commitment of lawmakers statewide, the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo was established in 2018. In March 2021, the school obtained the very important status of provisional. Accredited by the Board of Education (COE) of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and welcomed its first cohort of students in August of the same year.

The School of Veterinary Medicine recruits and selects students passionate about serving rural and regional communities. Its curriculum emphasizes the skills and abilities needed to be successful in the types of practices that support these communities. Texas Tech’s innovative and cost-effective model partners with the broader veterinary practice community across the state to provide hands-on, clinical experiential learning.

(Texas Tech University press release)


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