A free degree-level course in equine nutrition that attracted 24,000 online learners when it was launched by the University of Edinburgh last northern summer is to be repeated from late this month.
The course, organised by the University’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, will begin its second five-week run on January 27. Course information says it requires 3-4 hours of work a week.
Participants from across the globe took part in the course first time round. Topics covered include anatomy and physiology of the equine digestive tract and equine nutrient sources.
It includes modules on dietary management for different kinds of horses and ponies, particularly those with nutrition-related disorders.
There are also lecture videos and quizzes to work though each week and an opportunity for participants to share their thoughts and ideas with others on the course.
Assessment will take place at the end of the course with a series of multiple choice questions.
“We were delighted with the response to the first course and hope that many more people will sign up this time round,” course spokeswoman Dr Jo-Anne Murray said.
“If anyone wants to take part, all they need is internet access and a keen interest in equine nutrition.”
The equine nutrition course was one of six free courses for online students to be launched by the University of Edinburgh, with it first running a year ago.
The course is known as a MOOC – a Massive Open Online Course.
It is being delivered via the Coursera partnership – a network of leading international universities which offer short undergraduate-level online courses for free.
The course is designed for self-directed study with minimal tutor input, and as such emphasis is placed on peer discussions of the topics presented in each section of the course.
However, tutors will endeavour to answer the main queries relating to the understanding of the lecture materials and to provide a summary of the key questions raised in each of the weekly topics and clarification of any misunderstandings.
A second online course, covering animal behaviour and welfare, will be run for the first time in July.
Equine nutrition course syllabus
Week 1: Anatomy and physiology of the equine gastrointestinal tract
The expectation is that the course participants will come from varied backgrounds in relation to their previous experience of gastrointestinal tract anatomy and physiology. Consequently, this course begins with consideration of digestive anatomy and physiology in equids and will consider nutrient digestion in the various segments of the equine gastrointestinal tract.
Week 2: Feed composition
The learning materials during this period will focus on the composition of feedstuffs for horses and the factors that affect the composition of feedstuffs. There will also be information on how feedstuffs are evaluated. Discussion should focus on how the composition of feedstuffs affects their digestibility.
Week 3: Equine nutrient sources
This part of the course will consider various nutrient sources for equids. Various feedstuffs that are used in equine diets will be discussed, with emphasis placed on the health and welfare issues surrounding the inclusion of these in equine diets.
Week 4: Equine dietary management
This week of the course will explore the dietary management of equids. Discussions should focus around considering how modern feeding practices do not always consider the anatomy and physiology of the equine digestive tract.
Week 5: Equine clinical nutrition
This part of the course will focus on feeding strategies for the management and prevention of some nutrition-related diseases/disorders in equids; for example, obesity, laminitis, older horses with dental issues etc. Discussions should focus on the dietary management of individuals affected with nutrition-related problems.
More information, and to sign up, go here.