Distance learning in veterinary medicine: Enhancing interactivity in continuing education

Duncan C. Ferguson, Paul D. Pion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Technological advances have made distance veterinary continuing education a reality. Distance interactive continuing education programs using computer and modern are currently being offered via Veterinary Information Network (VIN) on the America Online (AOL) computer network and the Network of Animal Health (NOAH) on CompuServe. Using over 500 hours of course experience on VIN as an example, this article describes the technology involved in delivering online instruction including electronic mail, asynchronous bulletin board interactions, electronic library files, and realtime interactive discussions. These formats take advantage of the standard features of the network AOL are mixed with links to Worldwide Web sites, print and electronic publications, and even coordinated with "offline" meetings. The paradigm of learning is somewhat different than traditional "offline" or "onsite" meetings in that learning takes place over a period of 2 to 20 weeks, allowing the participating veterinarian to interact with instructors while applying the information in practice. Continual learning is encouraged as participants are allowed to participate in a course offered in sequential years. The successful online instructors tend to take advantage of electronic communications to encourage instructor-participant and participant-participant interactivity. The majority of course participants seek an additional challenge or greater interactivity in their continuing education experience; however, some veterinarians seek distance continuing education for practical reasons, including the ability to pursue additional education without leaving a solo practice, temporary or permanent physical disabilities, family considerations, or military service. Distance learning is a viable educational format, the role for which will evolve as technology and the base of experience with it expands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-131
Number of pages7
JournalSeminars in Veterinary Medicine and Surgery-Small Animal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Small Animals


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