I.T. Times
Volume 3. No 1 Information Technology News of the University of California, Davis Fall 1994

From Cows to Computers

Vet School Promotes Computer-Assisted Learning

by Catherine Curran, Information Technology Publications

Dr. George Cardinet's message to fellow veterinarians is simple -- information technology is changing the way we teach and practice medicine.

At a joint session of the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges and the American Association of Veterinary Anatomists this summer on campus, Cardinet showed his colleagues how computer networking promotes collaboration and shared resources.

"Each school is no longer a monopoly," Cardinet said. "Information technology makes it possible for us to share resources through a variety of mechanisms." Cardinet illustrated his point with an online tour of the Veterinary Medicine Education Network (VETNET). He took his audience to a World Wide Web site at Oklahoma State University, called up faculty teaching materials used by veterinarians at North Carolina State University, and opened a Canine Osteology program created by his colleague at Davis, Dr. Janine B. Kasper. As Associate Dean of Academic Programs, Cardinet is describing the development of a distributed computing environment at UCD's School of Veterinary Medicine. His vision calls for a fully networked environment with computers in the classrooms and a curriculum that promotes the use of online resources. Here is a look at the components of the vet school program.

How-to Instruction

All first-year vet med students are required to take an "Informatics" course that teaches them how to do Medline searches, go online into the Health Sciences Library and use e-mail. For one class assignment, students must use on-line resources to produce a bibliography on a topic.

World Wide Web

The School of Veterinary Medicine has a home page on the World Wide Web (http://vmgopher.ucdavis.edu). Developed by Randy Buechner, contents include the following: faculty biographies, course descriptions and samples of educational software produced by vet med faculty.

Educational Software

Faculty are actively involved in developing educational software. Often called courseware, these programs provide learning opportunities not found in textbooks -- or under the microscope. Dr. Kasper, who participates in the development of many programs, says the vet school has an agreement allowing students to obtain software developed by the school for personal use. The school also is obtaining copyrights to its programs. (See Interactive Software.)


This is the acronym for the Computer-Assisted Learning Facility. Located in Haring Hall, the CALF facilitates the use and development of educational software. It serves as both a teaching and research lab. Dr. Kasper is Program Coordinator of the CALF, and the School of Veterinary Medicine also employs a multimedia computer programmer, Rick Hayes, who participates in the development of new programs for Macintosh platforms. CALF personnel distribute the programs to classrooms.

"I think the programs are encouraging the students to work in groups," says Dr. Kasper. "This is good practice for the real world," she says. "When you are in a practice situation you want to confer with colleagues."

Online Classes

The school recognizes that some subjects can be taught online. For instance, students enrolled in "Hospital Practices" see one video a week. They then have three to four weeks to take a computerized quiz based on the videotape. The quizzes are scored on computer, and the results go into a folder on computer.

Computer Centers

Computer labs are being set up in classrooms and other areas throughout the school, so students will be able to take quizzes and examinations on computer. The computation of results will be computerized, providing instructors with useful information.