Comparison of a virtual microscope laboratory to a regular microscope laboratory for teaching histology


  • This project was made possible by the joint efforts of members of the College of Medicine at the University of Iowa. Ms. Harris, a second year medical student, was supported by the NIH Summer Research Fellowship Program for Medical Students. Mr. Leaven, MA, of the Pathology Dept. created the HTML design. Dr. Heidger of the Dept. of Anatomy and Cell Biology directs the Histology section of the Human Organ Systems course and Dr. Dick of the Pathology Dept. directs the Pathology course. Dr. Kreiter is a member of the Office of Consultation and Research in Medical Education and assisted with the evaluation. Mr. Duncan, MLIS, directs the Information Commons computer laboratories at the Hardin Library for the Health Sciences.


Emerging technology now exists to digitize a gigabyte of information from a glass slide, save it in a highly compressed file format, and deliver it over the web. By accessing these images with a standard web browser and viewer plug-in, a computer can emulate a real microscope and glass slide. Using this new technology, the immediate aims of our project were to digitize the glass slides from urinary tract, male genital, and endocrine units and implement them in the Spring 2000 Histology course at the University of Iowa, and to carry out a formative evaluation of the virtual slides of these three units in a side-by-side comparison with the regular microscope laboratory. The methods and results of this paper will describe the technology employed to create the virtual slides, and the formative evaluation carried out in the course. Anat Rec (New Anat) 265:10–14, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.