Veterinary students are increasingly looking for online resources to supplement their traditional courses. There is now a plethora of content to match this demand but students struggle to locate this material, gauge its relevance to their studies and ensure it is of good quality. Veterinary anatomy is one area where a Google search will locate thousands of possible links, of which the majority are of dubious value.
The teaching of anatomy in veterinary schools around the world shares many common approaches. Whilst textbooks are still widely used, there is a move to creating online teaching resources which can often be more visually effective and engaging. As a result many schools are creating their own materials, often duplicating things that colleagues in other locations are also producing.
For these reasons, the Online Veterinary Anatomy Museum (OVAM) was established to promote free sharing of peer reviewed content. It became apparent that there was a real enthusiasm from project partners to collaborate and new partners also requested to join. As a result, the museum now hosts digital assets from over 15 institutions including all the UK veterinary school and vet schools in the rest of Europe, India and Australasia.
The OVAM project adopted a number of innovative approaches to build its digital collection in less than a year. Appointing student e-curators, overseen by academic experts, not only helped facilitate the development of the museum but also meant they were able to create their own sets of learning resources. The digital museum mirrored the structure of a traditional museum with a “stack” based on a digital asset management system (Asset Bank) and public display using the open source Drupal platform.
The content of the museum has a strong educational focus. Many of the resources available through the museum are already being used effectively in veterinary schools for teaching purposes. The longer-term viability of the museum is tied to the future of the parent WikiVet project. The initial phase of the OVAM project has been funded under the JISC Content Programme 2011-2013. The museum is a work in progress and further contribution of assets either by individuals or institutions are always welcome.