Extension Education Session
The mission of the National Center for Applied Reproduction and Genomics (NCARG) is to provide education and training for active participants in the beef cattle industry. To provide these services, we have designed various educational programs targeted at different industry partners, including students, producers, and veterinarians. These programs are designed to supply introductory material through online courses followed by more advanced, in-person practicums. To adequately prepare learners for in-person training the online courses must provide meaningful online learning opportunities. The objective for this project was to evaluate the effectiveness of different e-learning elements for improving engagement, motivation, and learning gains across target audiences in one of the core online courses—Fundamentals of Beef Reproductive Management. Recommendations for adult learner courses encourage the integration of high levels of interactivity and real-world examples. However, online courses typically consist of recorded lectures with short, in-system quizzes. These courses do not motivate, or engage adult learners, leading to low completion rates and reduced learning gains. The same low-interactivity, passive learning courses are also offered to students. While completion rates in these courses remain high, students report low engagement, a lack of social interaction, and show lower retention. To improve interactivity, we designed, developed, and implemented five types of e-learning elements: short-readings, interactive videos, gamified elements, case studies, and lectures. These elements require learners to interact with the content improving reported engagement and motivation. By improving interactivity in our online courses, we aim to improve knowledge retention that will better prepare learners for in-person training and real-world situations.