This morning I got a notice about a virtual/simulated canine prototype under development called SimDog.
Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences lays claim to the only simulated canine with a virtual reality interface.
The idea is to help acupuncture students learn correct procedures and the correct locations for pet acupuncture on a pooch. The mindset behind it is that it eases the learning process for the students because the SimDog “cooperates” instead of squirms.
I previously wrote about pet acupuncturist careers in my Unusual Animal Career series. So, my thoughts?
First off, the thing is super expensive–but perhaps useful in the early stages of pet acupuncture training and it looks like it is specifically for pet acupuncture (and eventually other animal career) training programs.
However, dealing with uncooperative or squirming animals is going to be something these students encounter as professionals–so I anticipate that more experienced students will transfer what they learn to live animals during practical hands-on experience further in their pet acupuncture studies.
Next, what about cats, horses, and other companion animals that might be clients? Perhaps the company has those virtual/simulated pets on the planning board…
Now, there has been a large trend toward virtual learning. In fact, I participate in some online programs because it is easy and convenient. But when it comes to animals, you have to also get practical hands-on experience.
When I entered the animal field, people wanted practical experience over academic training, then the pendulum swing moved the emphasis to academic training which catalyzed programs that didn’t exist when I entered the field.
Ideally, both hands-on and academic training go together. If I had a choice, I look for aptitude first because you can’t always teach that. You can always teach the academics but not always the nuances or savvy.
I recently explained to a student, “Anyone can train but not everyone has the talent to train.” If you don’t understand this…more later.
Anyway, in the animal training field Sniffy the Virtual Rat Pro, Version 2.0 (with CD-ROM)helped to teach people the basics of training techniques. However it is vastly different from real, live application.
I’ll be interested in seeing how SimDog evolves–right now it is only a head–and I’ll be watching what impact it has on the learning process for pet acupuncture students.
Finally, if you are an animal training enthusiast, check out Sniffy the Virtual Rat Pro, Version 2.0 (with CD-ROM)and then compare it to the real process with live animals.