Veterinary Education Symposium 2013: Veterinary Students’ Attitudes towards Learning Resources: the PublishOER Project



Author note: I am very pleased to be collaborating with these three colleagues in this project that is funded in part from a grant by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC).


Brown, G., Newcastle University; Mossop, L., University of Nottingham; Short, N., Royal Veterinary College, University of London; and Robbé, I.J., Memorial University, Newfoundland


The PublishOER project aimed to increase access to published works by embedding them in openly licensed educational resources (OER). A series of four focus groups were held at two different schools (RVC and Nottingham) to explore the research question “What are veterinary students’ attitudes to learning resources and mobile‐learning?”.


An independent researcher conducted focus groups involving 36 students from different year cohorts. Transcripts were thematically analysed using frameworks drawn from the literature to develop a priori codes while remaining open to new themes.


Results found attitudes of high acceptance towards textbooks and teacher provided resources with more sceptical attitudes towards web 2.0 content. Students described “mashing up” more traditional resources with web 2.0 content, followed by extensive sharing of resultant materials, giving scant attention to copyright issues and showing reluctance to pay for online resources. Collaborative learning occurred through social media, especially Facebook, where teacher input was rare.


The groups described some socio‐cultural implications of mobile learning in clinical workplaces that could be positive and/or negative. A new learning approach is emerging of a constructivist, collaborative paradigm using a range of resources. This approach does not suit all students, and even early adopters resorted to more traditional “pen and paper” solitary activities at the learning stage as opposed to the accessing and processing stages. Teachers must consider pros and cons of learning via social media alongside VLE resources and textbooks. Publishers should respond to this emerging paradigm and consider more flexibility in regard to copyright and OER.

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About Iain Robbe

I am a medical practitioner (MB, BS, 1980; MRCS, LRCP, 1980) registered with the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic I have reactivated my licence to practise and I am providing telephone support to vulnerable elderly to assist them during the pandemic. I remain active as a Clinical Medical Educationist participating in a number of projects with the universities of St Mary’s and Dalhousie in Nova Scotia and Mount Allison in New Brunswick, inter alia, and separately with three of the veterinary schools in the UK. My focus is on teaching and research in professionalism, ethics, and communications, and particularly the influences of vernacular architecture on the creation of positive learning experiences in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education. I have the degree of Master in Public Health from the University of London (1985) and the degree of Master in Medical Education with distinction from the University of Wales (2001). The guiding principles in my practices are based on andragogy and humanism, and the prime ethical principle of autonomy for the individual and in population health.

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