Virtual Microscopy

Virtual Microscopy: Flexible e-Learning Platform to Support Learning & Assessment

Animal Brain Image

The fundamental principles in many of the disciplines within Sydney School of Veterinary Science rely on a complex and integrated understanding of the structure of tissues and organs in both health and disease. The challenges in achieving key learning outcomes in microscopic anatomy, pathology, microbiology and parasitology has been the necessity for specialised equipment (microscopes) and limited amount and access to teaching materials (microscopic sections).

Virtual Microscopy allows on-line access to entire scanned sections of tissue that can be viewed on a computer in exactly the same way as conventional glass slides with a microscope and can be explored by the learner at several magnifications. Virtual Microscopy takes the microscopy experience beyond the classroom by allowing whole slide microscopy at different magnifications in the on-line environment – via your favourite web browser. Unlike traditional microscopic sections on glass slides, digital slides can be securely accessed on-line at anytime from anywhere and cannot be damaged during their use or fade with time.

Students at the Sydney School of Veterinary Science have enthusiastically adopted the new technologies of e-learning including Virtual Microscopy. Digital slides enable educators with limited computational skills to provide a blended student learning experience that provides students with opportunities to integrate their interdisciplinary knowledge and develop their interpretative skills. The delivery of this material can easily be incorporated into existing e-learning resources that have been developed in the Faculty (i.e. ResourceBuilder), enhancing our e-learning capability.

In 2009, the University of Sydney has funded TIES (Teaching Improvement and Equipment Scheme) Large Grant to acquire and pilot Virtual Microscopy platform from SlidePath Ltd. in the Sydney School of Veterinary Science. The project has been formally supported by the Sydney Medical School and Faculty of Dentistry. Implementation of the software and hardware has been supported by University’s Information and Communications Technology that have been an integral part of this pilot project.

Fundamental reasons for the implementation of Digital SlideBox

  • It is a flexible plug-in application, easily linked through Blackboard and ResourceBuilder.
  • It possesses the ability to effectively improve student learning and teacher delivery by tracking student use of each slide, allowing teachers to monitor and modify the students’ centred activities to reach desired learning outcomes.
  • It is a flexible web-based delivery of whole slide microscopic images anywhere at any-time from the University of Sydney central shared Virtual Microscopy resource.