Mobile Veterinarians and Online Learning

Learning from our pets.

April 18, 2019

My dog is old.

We are not sure precisely how old, as she came to us as a rescue dog. Millie has lived with us for about 12 years.  We think she might have been two when she arrived.

Old dogs are the best. They sleep almost all of the time. When awake, they are calm.

What Millie does not like is going to the vet. As she has gotten older, trips to the veterinarian’s office have become more stressful.

I know this not because she tells me about her anxiety, but because she throws up when stressed.  (Millie also tends to throw up at the site of suitcases.  We need to pack in secret before trips).

So my wife and I were happy to read about a new service in our small college town. A mobile vet. A dog doctor who comes to our house.

We had our first home vet visit earlier this week.  Millie was much happier being poked, prodded, and injected in her own home. No throwing up.

Our experience (Millie and mine) with a mobile vet has gotten me thinking about online education.

There are lots of learners who, for whatever reason, will be happier learning from their home. Given a choice of traveling to campus and sitting in a classroom, or staying at home and sitting in front of a computer, they will choose the option to stay put.

People’s reasons to prefer learning at home to learning on campus will vary.

For most, the choice to learn at home is a matter of scheduling. With only so many hours in the day, and so many responsibilities to attend to (family and work), learning at home is the only feasible alternative.  Online education may have been the best thing ever to happen to the adult working population.

There might be other reasons beyond convenience; however, why learning at home is a wonderful option. Reasons to choose online education that go beyond the logistics of travel, geography, and program availability.

For some students, a home environment may be less stressful.  Other students will have health and mobility challenges that make online learning the only sort of education in which they can participate.

In higher ed, we talk a great deal about what online education means to us.  We talk about what online learning means to our brands, our revenue streams, and our institutional reach.

Maybe we should take more time to look at things from the perspective of our potential students. We should try to stretch beyond imagining the sorts of people who show up on our campuses now and try to think about all those who are not coming.

As I learned from my dog this week, sometimes staying home is the best possible place to go.

What does your dog (or cat?) have to teach you about higher education?


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