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Using Virtual Microscopy to Teach Anatomy & Physiology

Using Virtual Microscopy to Teach Anatomy & Physiology


Zvi Ostrin, Associate Professor & Vyacheslav Dushenkov, Assistant Professor, Department of Natural Sciences, Hostos Community College


For over a century, undergraduate lab work in biology has been synonymous with the use of optical microscopy (OM) and glass slides.  In A&P labs, students spend much of their time using OM to view preserved histology tissue slides.  This methodology has always been fraught with pedagogical problems, but until recently there was no substitute.  Now, however, there is potentially a better alternative—Virtual microscopy (VM), a methodology in which high quality tissue specimens mounted on glass slides are scanned and compiled into digitized images.  The move toward VM has been accelerating, especially in clinical settings and medical schools, and several VM websites are now readily accessible online without cost.  Colleges with broadband high-speed internet access are now technologically ready for VM implementation.  VM transforms the histology component of the A&P lab into an OER-enabled resource, facilitates access by students with disabilities, is highly compatible with active learning, flipped learning, online learning, and differentiated instruction, and saves money.  Presenters have extensively experimented with student use of digital devices and histology software in the A&P labs and found that this approach motivates A&P lab students to learn.  Based on that experience, presenters are now implementing the more powerful VM modality in their own A&P labs.  Presenters will share their experiences, provide information about VM websites, and lead a discussion on implementing VM in the Anatomy & Physiology lab.

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