Thursday, 30 June 2011

Presentation at e-Health Conference 28th June 2011

The presentation examined a collaborative model for sharing OERs between veterinary schools through a wiki.  The session described the lessons learnt from the JISC funded Opening Veterinary Access to Literature (OVAL) project. This is intended to trigger discussion as to how academic institutions can collaborate effectively with commercial publishers in the development of free to access learning resources.
The intended learning outcomes include an appreciation of the issues involved in sharing OERs and the application of the MEDEV OOER toolkit to support this process. More specifically, the session discussed how OERs can be adapted from existing published texts to generate educationally valuable, quality resources which are open access.
The WikiVet project has now been running for a 4 year period. In that time over 10,000 individuals have registered with the site representing over 198 veterinary schools from 68 countries. The presentation explained how the WikiVet environment has assisted in the publishing of OERs in an accessible format. A comparison was made with other approaches to repositories for OERs including JORUM and the case was made for new thinking on the most effective publishing models for the future.
The relevance of this session to the wider healthcare community includes exposure to new working practices which help address current shortfalls in funding for resource development. This will include developing business models which facilitate collaboration between corporate partners and academia with benefits for both.
To date review and evaluation of the project has been limited to feedback from small focus groups and statistical review of site usage. The session explored ways that these OER initiatives can improve feedback and evaluation in order to better focus provision on the needs of an international audience.
Further information on WikiVet and the OVAL project can be found at A compilation of key blogs relating to OERs is available on the MEDEV site at

Scase, T., Brown, G., Cox, B., Short, N., Smith, K., Whittlestone, K., Hammond, R. and Rhind, S. (2008) 'The WikiVet community of practice', The Academy Subject Centre for Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Medicine Newsletter 01, no. 17, Autumn 2008 pp. 15-16. ISSN 1740-8768 Also available online at: accessed [5 May 2011], ISSN 1479-523X.
Brown, G., Quentin-Baxter, M. and Belshaw, Z. (2010) ‘WikiVet: building a community of practice to support a self-sustaining wiki for veterinary education’, Int. J. Web Based Communities, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp.183–196.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Life in Spain and Working for OVAL (by Gemma Gaitskell - Phillips)

Living in Madrid and being involved with WikiVet has its problems and its advantages. Personally I think the advantages far outweigh the problems from both work and personal points of view! Being based here will definitely be an advantage as the Spanish site grows in terms of being able to visit and liaise with Spanish vets and vetschools which we hope will gradually become more involved as the site becomes more populated. Already I made a trip to Murcia to speak to the students who are going to be involved with the translation of the anatomy section over the summer and am in contact with a vet in Madrid who is keen to help with translation of the more clinically orientated articles. Spanish reference resources such as text books and libraries are also far more accessible form a Spanish base.
The downside is that communication has to be mainly via Skype, which although a brilliant tool can occasionally be a little bit temperamental! The advent of video calls means that I can feel just as much a part of the team as if I was in London! Face to face communication is always the ideal but this is the next best thing. As far as work on other aspects of the project go I don’t think that location has much of an effect, save perhaps if there is query and having to email or Skype to try and find out the answer. Last, but not least, the weather is definitely a huge bonus!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Datasheet progress

The datasheets are first selected by CABI according to the top world diseases. From the list they send us I choose the most appropriate diseases according to how much, if any, content is already available on WikiVet. The selected datasheets are then copied into a word document. These word documents I share with the team members via Dropbox. This is very useful as it allows us to share a regular looking folder on line. As we all work in different places, it makes our life much easier. I also create or tag the relevant page within WikiVet and put it in a 'To Do' category from where the team members select them to work on.

The work of the team members involves picking out the most relevant information from the CABI datasheets and  putting it into the relevant WikiVet page. If the original WikiVet page already contained some information, this is seamlessly integrated to provide text that is suitable for the veterinary undergraduate or recent graduate level. We do not aim to cover everything there is to know about a disease as there are other online places more suited to this, such as the original CABI datasheets. In case there is some information missing from the datasheets, this is then complemented by other sources.

Another major part of the team member's work is to create flashcards for their pages. This is a question and answer style of a page that encourages students to first think about the question before the answer is revealed to them. It works along the same line as the Manson flashcards but is specific to the information provided by the converted datasheet.

Once the team members are happy with their work, they put the pages into a category for me to review. I then look through them, add links, redirect all the 'also known as' terms so that whichever name of a disease a student searches for they land on the correct page. I also correct any typing errors that become obvious and check that the page conforms to the WikiVet style.

So far there have been quite a few pages completed and I will share a sample with you soon.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Manson Flashcards selection process

One part of the OVAL Project has been to integrate questions from Manson Publishing's series of Self-Assessment Colour Review books. Manson kindly agreed to open access to 10% of the questions within each of these books and have them integrated into WikiVet in a 'flashcard' format. This format enables the user to view a picture, then there are some questions related to that image (often of a case). The user can click to reveal the answer, and then follow a link to the relevant WikiVet article. The tricky part of this process is to select which questions to choose, as there are some really great questions!

A Veterinary graduate has been reading through the books and shortlisted questions that would be most suitable for incorporation into WikiVet. A number of criteria have been used to select the best questions, some of which include:
  • The questions do not give away the answer
  • The questions are relevant to a global audience
  • The image is of a high quality and is integral to the question
  • The answer is sufficiently succinct and in a format that is easily readable
  • There are only 1 or 2 images as part of the question
Once these questions and images have been shortlisted, the next task involves selecting which will represent the book. Time is taken ensuring that the questions represent an appropriate spread across the topic that reflects the importance of the different problems represented. It is hoped that the 10% of questions selected give a good representation of the book itself and the topic. Some of these questions can be viewed at

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Project Steering Group Meeting

Today we had another very useful steering group meeting. Representatives of all the partners were involved and some good ideas were bounced about and agreed. The most interesting will probably be the inclusion of links from Wikipedia to the WikiVet pages formed from the CABI datasheets that will be open to the public and making podcast versions of them.

For more information see the meeting minutes.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

New team members started

We have employed two new team members to help with the workload of adapting the CABI datasheets for WikiVet purposes. They are from the first cohort of veterinary graduates from the University of Nottingham. The selection process involved the usual CV and cover letter as well as a little task of re-purposing a CABI datasheet into the WikiVet style. For this task that was done just in a word document as it would really not be fair to ask people to do that directly in a wiki! They now had their training session, which went really well, they learned how to edit WikiVet and clarified what format we are looking for. Now they have selected topics from a list and are working on their first pages.