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Viral Learning

We are certainly in challenging times with the spread of the coronavirus.  Many universities are closing and encouraging students to remain home after Spring break in North America.  The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) just announced that “March Madness,” the college basketball tournament in the U.S., will not be played in front of crowds. 

Today, I attended a Masie Center teleconference organized 2 days ago and attended by 600 on the topic of the impact of coronavirus pandemic on education and trainng. The conference was designed to engage educators and corporate trainers in the process of sharing educational ideas and resources. I highly encourage the reader to sign up for this "Coronavirus and Learning" site:

Coronavirus and Learning Project

VetMedAcademy (VMA) has tried to encourage “blended learning” amongst veterinary academics worldwide, mainly because it encourages faculty to focus on local (face-to-face) student engagement and not simply content delivery.  Having said that, to facilitate this didactic approach, VMA also creates, curates and shares content resources directly for student consumption or direct adoption by faculty, and we also can host online learning environments for institutions that either do not have such resources, or want to develop shared resources.

This brings us to where many universities are now heading during the coronavirus pandemic, that is, “face-to-face” learning is a health risk. So, we all now need to take a harder look at online learning, also known as distance learning, e-learning, etc.    For those experienced with e-learning, this adjustment may not be a problem.  However, for those not accustomed to this approach (faculty and students), the most important thing is NOT to force the issue. I remember the days when we were seeking to convince state boards to accept ANY online CE credits. It took time, but we got there.  The problem is that we need now to move quickly.

We’d also like to point out our longest-standing learning module on VMA entitled Blended Learning and Critical Thinking.”  It focuses on approaches and tools for online medical education.

Additionally, some key general points made during the Masie teleconference by his panel of educational experts were:

1. Take the opportunity to step back and take a deep breath – think deeply about your educational goals before proceeding with design of an online learning experience.

2. Focus on developing an online learning “experience,” rather than just online content delivery.

3.  A person does not become a good online instructor without having first been an online student.  So take the opportunity to learn more about best practices such as with our free learning module or find a course on Udemy, Coursera,, etc.

4. Learn about ways to convey your personality and teaching “style” in the online environment

5. Make lemonade at this tipping point in education: take a positive approach and seek to use this as an opportunity to do some educational research about (fill in the blank).

If others have resources or advice for transferring from onsite to online education, please sign in and add this information as a comment to this post. If VetMedAcademy can be of specific help to any instructor or learner, please email


Duncan Ferguson, VMD, PhD, DACVIM, DACVCP

Some recent resources from the Chronicle of Higher Education
1. Miller MD: Going Online in a Hurry: What to Do and Where to Start (March 9, 2020)

2. Blumenstyk G: Why Coronavirus Looks Like a ‘Black Swan’ Moment for Higher Ed (March 11, 2020)

3. Zimmerman J: Coronavirus and the Great Online-Learning Experiment: Let’s use this crisis to determine what our students actually learn when we teach them online. (March 10, 2020) (premium subscription content)

4. Free Collection from the Chronicle of Higher Education: Moving Online Now: How to Keep Teaching During Coronavirus.  (DOWNLOAD HERE)
Title image: Open-source from Pixabay