So, where should I start?
As many of you know or maybe not know I teach Histology in a college.
Lately, or maybe not so lately, there is a tendency to replace the Microscope with digital images.
These images can be found online in many web sites. To list a few:
To operate a regular Histology lab is expensive. Slides and microscopes are expensive and maintenance costs for the equipment are high.
The main question that I have is:
Do we really need still to use a manual microscope lab in order to teach histology?
A question which is asked in many parts of the world, and a couple of studies were done by Harris T et al. 2001, Lei L-W et al. 2005 and others show that there is no one correct answer.
I would tend to agree and would say that it is all a question of money, time and maybe the most important what do you want your students to know.
Last year I was all against replacing the microscopes for computers and digital images. However, I recently started to change my mind.
Students in the health sciences need to have the basic knowledge of how microscope works, but more importantly they need to know what is going in the tissue not just on the macroscopic scale but also at the microscopic scale.
So a course in “virtual microscopy” using digital images as the anatomy study set may be sufficient if you intend to examine the students’ basic knowledge of the histology. However, if in the future they would like to do their own research and need to perform actual hands on manipulation of the microscope as a tool for their study their training will be insufficient. Nevertheless, I do not see any problem in acquiring these techniques in a separate course in short a period of time or through direct training from an expert in the research lab at the beginning of their experimental studies.
Harris. T, Leave. T, Heidger. P. Kreiter. C, Duncan. J and Dick. F, Comparison of a virtual microscope laboratory to a regular microscope laboratory for teaching histology. The anatomical record, 265 (1):10-14, 2001
Lei LW, Winn W, Scott C, Farr A. Evaluation of computer-assisted instruction in histology: effect of interaction on learning outcome. Anat Rec B New Anat. 2005 May;284(1):28-34.
HIstology is very important for studing the biological sciences. If somebody is against histology, I feel its something like studying a scientific opic without the basics.
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