Veterinary educators have been warned to prepare for a “technological revolution” where students will be trained through virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI).
Andrew Maccabe, chief executive of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, told veterinary professionals and academics they were facing the end of brick and mortar learning institutions and face-to-face consultations.
Addressing the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education, Dr Maccabe said the last real innovation in education was the development of the written word, more than 3,000 years ago, with every technological development since being an off-shoot.
Speaking at the event, hosted by the RVC, Dr Maccabe said: “We are on the verge of a technological revolution, with the growth of computing power and memory that will probably unlock the next true innovation in teaching, with the advent of VR and AI. This will, again, allow teaching systems to adapt to the learner… and this is what will be transformative in education.”
The profession could, subsequently, head down one of two pathways, to a dystopian future or a utopian one.
Dr Maccabe said: “The dystopian future would be if the technology gets out of hand and we end up with AI robotic teaching, with no direct feedback. Whereas a utopian future would allow us to embrace change, harness technology and be part of it.”
‘Nothing sacred’ in vet education
He added: “There is nothing sacred about higher education or veterinary education. Just because we’ve always done it a certain way – you must come through our institutions to enter this profession – doesn’t mean it will stay that way.
“We need to be prepared for this technological revolution and be part of it. We need to be the ones helping develop technology and do it in a way that preserves social contract. I think there’s a great opportunity there… and it is wonderful and exciting.”
Competency-based education could also transform the way veterinary medicine is taught.
“No longer will we have to have a five-year curriculum… because, when it is competency-based, students will be able to progress at their own pace, it will be more self-directed and promote ‘learner-centredness’,” Dr Maccabe said.
- Read the full story in the 5 June issue of Veterinary Times.