Project introduction and background information
The course 'Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare' teaches students to design and practice animal welfare assessment methods. However, we experience increasing difficulties in enabling hands-on / on- site experiences in animal welfare assessments, due to high student numbers and stricter (ethics) regulations on the use of animals in research and education. Also, students are now limited in the different species and methods that can be studied during the course practical. Digital animal welfare assessment training modules, complementary to animal friendly practices on-site, solve this and allow students to practice multiple welfare assessment methods in multiple species.
Project activities include:
- Scientific knowledge. Key scientific information on a contemporary method for assessing animal welfare is collected and made available online through web links, documents and video clips.
- Video content for training. Video footages of animals on farms and in shelters are produced. Footages show examples of animals with signs of suboptimal welfare (demos), and include footages that students assess and report on by using web surveys (training).
- Building a training module. The digital content is integrated into a web environment that creates the training module. Student assessments of animal behaviour health and welfare are benchmarked against those of experts and individual feedback is integral part of the training module. We consider the above feasible based on our experience in creating and using web based videos on animal behaviour and surveys for collecting assessments and providing feedback (for an impression click here or see here).
Objective and expected outcomes
The aim of this education innovation project is to create online training modules for assessing animal welfare. Modules are based on video footages made on farm and in animal shelters, and combined with explanatory video clips. Integral part of the training modules is individual feedback on a student’s performance in animal welfare assessment. Also, trends in (mis)performances across students are input for feedback at the levels of practical groups, by supervisors, and course classes, by lecturers.
Results and learnings
Training module parts can be readily updated or replaced to integrate recent scientific developments and establish dissemination of high-quality scientific knowledge. The online training modules combined with web lectures, creates flexibility for our students. The repertoire of modules allows to follow individual learning paths, focussing on say livestock species and health rather than pets and behaviour. Module outcomes allow mid-course evaluation of individual learning progress and identification of general knowledge gaps, with feedback being used optimally to support learning.