OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE
Spring 1994 Volume 16, No. 1
VET MED PROFESSOR WRITES "INTERACTIVE" TEXT
Tom Johnston, OSU News Bureau
When the book Dr. Greg Campbell (class of 1985) was using to teach his veterinary pathology course at Oklaho¬ ma State University went out of print two years ago, he improvised. He printed up a 75 or 80-page set of reference materi¬ als and handed them out to each student at the beginning of each semester.
Now, he's improvising again. He's writing his own interactive textbook. And rather than being bound between hard¬ covers, the new text will be on a set of floppy disks the student can take home and install on his or her computer. The text, entitled "Cyberpath", will be avail¬ able for student use this fall, Campbell said.
"It's not a video game with multiple choice questions you can just 'click' on until you get all the answers", Campbell said. "What I really intend this to be is an information delivery system. It is interac¬ tive only in the sense it will allow the student to branch off in multiple path¬ ways from many points in the text."
Campbell explained he wanted to meet a need for information and, at the same time, put the information in a form that would be most useful to students. He estimated that 60-70% of the veteri¬ nary medicine students have home com¬ puters. And he expects that number to continue to grow. He also added that plans call for the addition of a multimedia classroom to the College of Veterinary Medicine to be underwritten by bond money.
The new text will have a powerful keyword search facility as well as a print facility, which will allow the student to print any portion of the text.
And where would a text be without pictures? Campbell said he made exten¬ sive use of the departmental slide trans¬ parency files. The selected slides were sent to Kodak to be digitized and put on compact disc. In that form, Campbell can import them to the pages of his textbook, crop them, and adjust color if necessary.
Campbell said one of the beauties of this form of information delivery comes when it is time to revise or update the text. Instead of having to buy a new text¬ book, the owner of the text simply pur¬ chases an inexpensive update disk, and a built-in program on the disk makes the necessary changes to keep the text cur¬ rent.
What does the rest of the faculty think about this method of information delivery? "The jury's still out on that," Campbell said. "It's really in its infancy at this point in time. I haven't shown it to that many people, but everyone that has seen it has been very positive about it."
In addition, Campbell also gave a preview to first-year vet student Russell
Higbee. "I think it's great," Higbee said. "If each of our classes had a facility like this, it would be so easy to link one class with another. If I were studying histology, for example, and forgot what a diseased liver looked like, I wouldn't have to dig into the bottom of my closet for my pa¬ thology textbook. The information would be at my fingertips."
There is a software company who publishes similar programs for human medicine, and Campbell said he has con¬ tacted them about development and mar¬ keting possibilities. "Their general reac¬ tion was they didn't feel the market potential in veterinary medicine would jus¬ tify the expense of their time and mon¬ ey," Campbell said. "They said if I want¬ ed to go ahead and develop the text, they would be glad to look at it when I am finished. Well, there's no question about my doing the project, since I'm doing it for my students, to begin with."
"Of course I'd like to be rich and famous," he quipped. "But it looks like I may have to settle for just "famous."