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Can a virtual farm motivate veterinary students to learn physiology?
MAALY M. NASSAR1 and HEIKE TÖNHARDT2
1Cairo University, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine,12515, Egypt, email@example.com
2Freie Universität, Institut für Veterinär-Physiologie, Berlin, Germany, firstname.lastname@example.org
ABSTRACT Physiology is hard to learn and not critically important are two terms said by many veterinary students and this may be attributed to the fact that many underlying physiological processes could not be imagined and many fundamental physiological bases are not used or applied. Thus, the need for a successful curriculum was imperative to motivate veterinary students to learn veterinary physiology and integrate what they learn into their careers as veterinarians.
Consequently, a triphasic study was designed to propose an interactive computer based farm; a virtual farm model in which students could integrate the fundamentals they learn in physiology curriculum into cases diagnosis. An equine virtual farm was used as a model and cerebellum and balance was adopted as the challenging topics. In phase 1 (the present phase), different pictures from horses bodies, ears, brains and farms were taken and 3D images of the horse body, ear and cerebellum were designed and animated using Autodesk Maya. 3D images were then imported into Adobe flash and the following scenes were created and programmed. The first scene is an introductory tour about the infrastructure of the virtual farm, in which the student will be introduced to the horses? field and the farm house. At the end of the tour, every part of the farm will be clickable so that the student could enter any part and start his work there. By clicking on the horses? field, the student will be able to start his work as a veterinarian by observing his animals and writing his daily report. By clicking on the farm house, the student will be able to enter his office (the second scene) to do some search on his computer, which will suggest certain book to read and by clicking on that book, the book becomes readable. The book will be supplied by buttons to close or to go to index, text, static 3D pictures, and 3D animation links to describe the non-imaginable underlying physiological mechanisms, suggested laboratory tests and evaluating game. In phase 2 (April 2008), a virtual laboratory (the third scene) will be integrated into the virtual farm so that the student could diagnose its abnormal cases by performing further experiments. The laboratory will be designed and animated using Autodesk Maya and imported into the virtual farm house using Adobe Flash. In phase 3 (May 2008) two comparative trials will be applied on second year veterinary medicine students of both Freie and Cairo universities, in Germany and Egypt respectively, to evaluate the usefulness of adopting virtual equine farm as a teaching method in comparison with the already existing teaching paradigms in both countries (phase 3).
Future prospects: when integrated into other disciplines, next generations of different animal virtual farms could be flexible models to motivate students to learn different veterinary sciences.