Our plans for providing educational services or research projects depends on two things: 1) rearing issues that come to our attention from our own work or from questions or observations from our contacts, and 2) demands from our students, customers, cooperators, and stakeholders. The first component is driven by intellectual concepts and practical needs. The second component is strongly influenced by funding considerations where the practical driving force is this question: “how will we pay our bills?”
In my contact with students from my classes, cooperators, government entities, and private companies, I have realized the need for special attention to enhancement of rearing education. Right now, rearing education is being done in workshops in Mississippi (US) and in South Africa, and of course my classes from North Carolina State University (NCSU). My classes have been switched to Zoom because of the convenience of online courses and the benefits of live/synchronous courses.
The benefits of the synchronous, online courses have been less appreciated than they deserve to be. I am finding that we can make the courses more pertinent to the students’ needs with constant updating and presentations with conventional Power Points and Videos such as the one presented here.
In this video, I am showing the feeding by tobacco hornworms (Manduca sexta) on artificial diet. Along with the brief feeding video where I explain the use of sense organs, digestive secretions, and biting mouthparts, these insects consume their diet. One of the diets that I am using in my current research is a black bean diet shown being made in a steam kettle, and the final section of this film clip shows the testing of the diet’s texture (hardness, firmness, or gel strength) with a type of penetrometer.
What I have been doing in my courses to keep the materials fresh and relevant, I have been developing new materials derived from my own research as well as from current, recent and past literature. The possibilities of presenting new materials is illustrated in this video, which allows me to show the synthesis of how the insects feed (in this case with biting mouth parts) and how this feeding mechanism relates to the making of a diet and then the testing of the physical qualities of the diet.
In future courses, we can take advantage of images, videos, and other data capture from the students’ laboratory and/or from my laboratory, and we can build a mentoring/learning exchange that can be achieved on an individual or shared basis. For example, a recent class participant (Liz Karen Villanueva Jimenez from SENASA, Peru)
With this kind of sharing of images and videos, it is almost like my being able to visit the students’ (course participants’) facility or like their visiting my laboratory. I see this kind of modified “hands-on” activity as the future of education on a remote basis, where everyone in the world can connect and nearly instantly share their experiences and learning situations. I can see this extending to students that can be mentored in all aspects of rearing and rearing-related analyses, including statistics where I have begun to do tutorials on using JMP-based design of experiments protocols!