Lord Dowding Fund for humane research


National Antivisection Society

Twenty five years of amazing progress

3 May 2011


The Lord Dowding Fund for Humane Research has been funding Professor David Dewhurst and his work for 25 years – an historic landmark and a testament to the commitment of the LDF.

Professor Dewhurst’s project is called ReCal and it is set up in such a way that it enables university teachers of pharmacology, physiology and other subjects, such as biochemistry, and anatomy, to be able to deliver a broad spectrum of teaching, such as lectures, tutorials and laboratory classes, and also to support the student learning in these disciplines. The programs can be altered by lecturers in order to be tailored to their specific needs, making them imminently flexible and user friendly.

So far, 62 computer–assisted learning programmes have been taken apart and revised. In addition to this over 4,700 learning objects have been catalogued in the “learning objective repository”. An exciting element of this grant is the translation of some of the learning programs into 10 different languages, including Chinese, Spanish, and multiple Eastern European languages. To date there are 28 foreign language versions, which increases, ever wider, the number of students and their lecturers who are able to utilise these valuable resources.

Lecturers may either use a CD Rom with all the necessary components, or they can access the programs via a password controlled web-site. Documents are continually being added to the online tool kit in order to support users.

One of the most exciting elements of the project, which is yet to start, is the development of a “Virtual Laboratory”. This will enable the learner to simulate conducting experiments on a preparation in the laboratory. Professor Dewhurst explains how this will be based upon “an approach, typified by virtual patients which are proving very useful and popular in teaching medical and veterinary students”. This is an area where Edinburgh University has “particular expertise and experience”.
Over the coming months, this element of the project will be completed, as will the translation of another 9 foreign language programs. These 9 programs, along with two more English versions will also be taken apart, revised and catalogued.

This collaboration has been truly ground-breaking, historic and also innovative and, as the progress described above highlights, Recal is forever evolving and changing, making it more accessible and relevant to increasing numbers of students and their lecturers.

© National Anti-Vivisection Society