In fact, the first class was offered in 1998 with just two students enrolled.
How the course has grown over the next two decades.
“The class has outgrown the single session offered each spring semester,” said Dr. David Starling, assistant teaching professor in biomedical sciences. “We currently have 30 student slots available and this year we have 40 students on the waiting list.”
The elective course is open to any veterinary medicine student, senior-level undergraduates in animal ecology and BMS graduate students in the one-year master’s program.
Anticipating the possibility of an additional section of “Introduction of Aquatic Animal Medicine,” Starling is moving the course forward in another way. He has received a Miller Open Education Mini-Grant from Iowa State University to help transition the course material to open educational resource (OER) formats and redesign the course content. He plans to utilize information developed over the years from dozens of faculty members both in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Department of Animal Ecology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Starling will use the Miller grant to consolidate the class content for “Introduction of Aquatic Animal Medicine” into a written format for publication on the ISU Pressbooks website. Eventually the content will also include virtual derivation of labs and field trips.
“The area of instruction lacks a single resource for teaching this area of veterinary medicine,” Starling said.
The pandemic escalated the need for change. When classes were held virtually, Starling at first relied on recorded lectures before moving to virtual, live classes.
“The greatest barrier was not having a consolidated reference or information source for the sundry topics covered,” Starling said. “The students have long commented on being hampered with having class resources in several places when they sought more information than was provided in the lectures and labs.”
Funding from the Miller grant will permit time and equipment needed for consolidating all the topics developed in the class since 1998. Students will not only have no-cost access to the on-line materials but will save time searching and acquiring the information.
Starling says once the materials are developed in one, concise location, other veterinary colleges could be interested in utilizing it in similar courses. A federal agency has also expressed
interested in the OER textbook for new employee training and as the material is expanded there is also the possibility of continuing education for veterinarians.