A fresh vision: 'Virtual microscopy' enlarges students’ understanding of diseases

Digital image of an acute myocardial infarction in the Virtual microscopy tool in VLE.

Students have access to digital images of disease mechanisms like this one on the 'Virtual microscopy' page in the VLE (WebLearn).

What students see under the microscope compared to what they see with plain eyesight sometimes simply does not add up. Yet knowing how and why micro- and macroscopic processes are interlinked allows Medical students to detect diseases. How can tutors visualise these connections?

Dr Jennifer Brown, Lecturer at the Radcliffe Department of Medicine, initiated the use of 'Virtual microscopy' and online quizzes. Images of microscopic features of common diseases were scanned, then used in class and the VLE (WebLearn). On WebLearn they were brought together in 'Virtual pots'. Students are now able to compare at a glance the macroscopic appearances with clinical history and symptoms.

To make for an even more interactive learning experience, engaging new online quizzes test the students’ knowledge every week. Students come back to the online resources, while teachers value the alignment of teaching methods with the ultimate goal of the course – to train clinicians with a critical and rational approach.


The success of the histopathology virtual microscopy has led to similar teaching facilities in other laboratory medicine disciplines.

– Dr Jennifer Brown, Radcliffe Department of Medicine


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