A wideranging online undergraduate course on horses has been launched at the University of Florida.
The course, run through the College of Veterinary Medicine, is said to cover everything from common health issues and anatomy to the history of the species and providing an understanding of equine-related business and research.
“Because it’s online, we are able to offer this course to students at universities where they might not have a strong equine sciences department,” said course coordinator Patrick Larkin, an adjunct lecturer in the college’s department of large animal clinical sciences. Larkin also co-directs an online course on dogs, which began at the university in 2012.
“It’s also good exposure for students to decide whether or not they want to go into this field,” Larkin said.
The course is presented by university faculty members from several different disciplines. It is aimed at sophomore or higher level students and features pre-recorded lectures.
Students must log in to the course website to watch lectures and complete assignments and may post questions in a discussion forum, Larkin said.
The course starts with an introduction to the evolution and domestication of horses and continues with lectures on breeds, preventive health care, genetics, nutrition and the musculoskeletal system. Students are also exposed to the role of scientific inquiry and methods through specific case studies and a module focusing on scientific articles in the equine field.
“We’re really getting the cream of the crop in terms of our students,” Larkin said. “These students really want to learn and are interested in the topic.”
About 30 students from across the US and even further afield have enrolled in the course this semester. They hail from Tennessee, New York, Minnesota and even Turkey, in addition to students from the University of Florida.
“This class offers students who are interested in pursuing a career in veterinary medicine or veterinary technology the opportunity to take a class in their area of interest and to network with experts in the equine field,” Larkin said.
“Because it’s online, this class allows us to reach out to those students in that the class actually goes to them and they do not have to come here to the University of Florida to take it.”