Virtual microscopy in the classroom

This morning saw the first use of CSlide teaching slides within the laboratory to demonstrate the features that students should be looking for down their own microscopes. Monitors around the laboratory display the demonstrator’s computer screen or a view down the demonstrators microscope. The two main benefits of using CSlide on the computer, rather than projecting images from the demonstrator’s microscope, are:

  1. CSlide starts with a view of the whole slide and the demonstrator zooms in by double-clicking. This helps students get a feel for where they will find the relevant structures on their own slides. With a projected microscope, this overview is generally not possible and the change of lenses required for zooming in can make the experience disjointed.
  2. Each slide can be opened before the class, ready for use, in a separate window. This makes it very much quicker and easier to switch between slides, when teaching or responding to student questions, than with a traditional microscope.

The next stage is to embed the slides in students’ online teaching materials as has been done in the second year Nervous System course (Oxford users only). Annotations and ‘tours’ around the slides will give students a chance to come back to slides of interest outside the time-pressured environment of the laboratory. We also hope to build on these with self-test quizzes and decision maze case-studies.


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