At the beginning of this project, working with Animal Osteopathy International, local veterinary nursing clinics and equine industry employers, there was a recognised lack of opportunities in the current curriculum, where students experience the surgical practice they might need for the workplace. Animal Osteopathy agreed to run a set of workshops at Plumpton College, demonstrating horse-dissection and surgery techniques.

Example 360-degree learning video

The college collaborated closely with these industry specialists to co-design and deliver a subject specific teaching curriculum, focusing on animal anatomy and surgery. Staff and students from the equine and veterinary nursing divisions attended dissection workshops across the week. This gave not only students, but staff and local employers access to subject-specific, vital learning material that would otherwise not be available. Six video areas were identified: Four-limbs, Spine-pelvis, Head and neck, Heart and lungs, Digestive system. These workshops have been filmed, and are being developed into a suite of specialist learning videos.

Example video showing gait analysis with a student

It became staggeringly clear during the filming of these videos just how complex, and time-consuming the dissection of a whole horse is! While the learning material is very specific to students invested in progressing into equine or veterinary nursing workplaces - like Animal Osteopathy International - it is invaluable in the depth of knowledge delivered, and the industry-specific skills this gives to students, and colleges.

The project’s presentation at the Teach Too employers workshop organised by the Sussex Council of Skills Providers (SCTP), also gave attendees, employers, trainers, colleges, an opportunity to discuss how they might apply emerging practice in their own relationships.

Specialists from Animal Osteopathy International ran a masterclass workshop with equine students and staff
During the masterclass, the specialist demonstrated equine dissection and surgery techniques. All of the workshops were filmed and are being turned into a co-designed specialist video learning package.

Did the project make a difference?

The process of collaborating with colleges, specialists and employers allowed everyone involved to understand the importance of 'two-way' communication. By co-designing a curriculum with local veterinary clinics and equine industry employers, gave students the subject-specific learning material they need within their curriculum improves the opportunities to progress, and emphasises the importance of curriculum's in the industry sectors.

The impact of the produced outputs, the subject-specific suite of learning videos and shorter micro-clips, is students with higher-skills, and more opportunities as a result of the expertise from the equine and veterinary industry. There was such a wealth of material gathered during the video process, that shorter, micro-clips will be made as well as the six longer videos, to showcase even more of the specialist skills required.

What we learned

When the college initially started to produce learning videos with employers at the start of the project, the consensus was to produce 3-5 minute videos in a formal training course format. However, one of the main things that became apparent, was the impact of social media content on the planned videos. Most students preferred to view one short aspect of each video, or one skill demonstrated, rather than the types of videos used by lectures. The project then decided to use the remaining footage to make shorter clips, which better reflected the preferred learning style of the students.

The importance of specialist practitioners visiting the college to share their specialist skills also became apparent. For example, having specialists from Animal Osteopathy International come in and deliver masterclasses to staff, students and local employers highlighted the need for specialist learning material to give students the best opportunities to prepare for their future workplace.