The objective of this study was to examine how computer assisted learning can support training in reproduction medicine. This teaching method is frequently used in English speaking countries. In Germany, on the other hand, computer assisted learning is rarely being utilized. With the computer, different media such as text, still images, ultrasound images, animation, video and sound can be integrated in a computer assisted learning program. Learning at the computer is an active process. Learners will get personalized feedback from the computer. In simulations, students can make their own decisions and can even make mistakes without causing any damage. The speed of learning can be adjusted to the learner´s ability. Learning with the computer is not linear. Through branching, complex concepts can be visualized and additional background information provided. The computer allows easy access to relevant information. An entire knowledge base can be made available via a key stroke and a click of the mouse. A program existing as well in German as in English was tested on it´s efficiency and perception by German students. The English version was used because there exists a large number of English computer assisted learning programs. Hence cost and availability favor English programs. Both versions of the program were equally successful in producing a gain in the students´ knowledge. However, students who worked on the English version took considerably more time to finish lessons than did students who worked with the German version. Learning with an English computer assisted learning program also caused more frustration than the German program. We developed a computer assisted learning program about dairy reproduction as a tool to assess the advantages and disadvantages of this teaching method. Another objective of the study concerned how to present veterinary knowledge most effectively in a computer assisted learning program. It could be shown that the expertise from the areas of veterinary medicine, computer science and instructional design, that is necessary for the development of a computer assisted learning program, can be provided through an interdisciplinary cooperation. The computer assisted learning program that was developed for these investigations teaches the topic "estrous cycle of dairy cows". It consists of four modules:
1. In a tutorial, the stages of the estrous cycle are introduced and typical clinical findings of different examination methods are shown. 2. In the second module, physiological variations of the different findings can be compared. 3. In clinical case studies, students can apply their knowledge to solve clinical cases. They decide, which examinations seem necessary for a specific patient, and are presented the findings of these examinations. With this information, they need to come to a diagnosis and to recommend a treatment. 4. In a quiz the students´ knowledge of different aspects of estrous cycle is tested. The computer assisted learning program on the estrous cycle of dairy cows was evaluated by students and teachers. Advantages and disadvantages of learning with a tutorial (first module) and case based learning (third module) were examined. Ninety-one percent of the students wanted to learn basic concepts in a tutorial first and then apply their knowledge on clinical cases. Students considered it less effective to start with clinical cases and to use the tutorial to search for facts needed to solve the cases. The students believed that the clinical case studies gave them a better preparation for practical work, versus using the tutorial. However, they considered the tutorial more useful for preparing for an exam. Solving clinical cases was more fun for the students than working on a tutorial. Over all, computer assisted learning was given extremely positive ratings by students as well as by teachers. Of 178 students questioned, 86% wanted to learn with the computer more often. The program on the estrous cycle was also demonstrated to 18 teachers of reproduction medicine. All of these teachers thought that computer assisted learning should be integrated into the veterinary curriculum more often.