Distance Learning Convenience for Swine Producers

US - The successful distance education programme SowBridge begins its third year in January 2010.
calendar icon 13 November 2009
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Kansas State University Research and Extension animal science associate professor Joel DeRouchey said the programme received great reviews from a wide range of participants and that helped solidify the decision to continue offering it.

"We asked participants for suggestions on topics and speakers, and are happy to provide a greater variety of subjects and speakers from university, public and private entities this year," said DeRouchey, who is a livestock specialist with K-State Research and Extension and the Kansas contact for SowBridge. "SowBridge provides all participants with the opportunity not only to hear directly from experts, but to contact those experts following the individual sessions."

He said the program is intended for people involved in managing or caring for boars, sows, and/or their litters, including operation owners, employees, technicians, managers and technical service providers. SowBridge is designed to improve the understanding and application of various tools and techniques involved in daily care of the breeding herd and piglets.

"People from 13 states, four Canadian provinces and Ireland took part in the past year´s program, and they told us they appreciated having all employees participate in the sessions without requiring any travel or other expenses," he said. "With the live phone presentation and slideshow viewed on computer, participants do not need internet access and can take part from anywhere."

Before each session, subscribers receive a CD containing that session´s presentation, along with information on accessing the live speaker presentation. Most participants will call a toll-free conference line to listen to and interact with presenters. Each subscription costs $250 (US) which provides access to one telephone line per session and all program materials. Each session begins at 11:30 a.m. Central Time and lasts for about 45 minutes.

The year-long program is offered by subscription only with a 1 December 2009 deadline to ensure participants will receive materials for the first session on 6 January 2010. Materials, delivery process, and program costs are slightly different for those with non-US mailing addresses, said DeRouchey, who encouraged potential subscribers from outside the United States to contact the Iowa Pork Industry Center for more information.

Materials for the first session will be sent the week of 14 December to those who met the 1 December deadline. Materials to others will be sent as forms are received and materials are ready.

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