Patel SG, Rosenbaum BP, Chark DW, Lambert HW. Design and implementation of a web-based, database-driven histology atlas: technology at work. Anat Rec B New Anat. 2006 Sep;289(5):176-83.

PMID: 17125133


At Vanderbilt University, the "Human Cell and Tissue Biology" course is a required lecture and laboratory course with 2 full-time instructors and 106 students. To address demands placed on faculty for individual attention, an interactive Web-based histology atlas was developed and implemented in January 2005. This atlas was specifically designed to complement the existing laboratory manual and to transform the manual into an interactive educational tool whereby students could view high-resolution images of histological specimens online. By utilizing a computer scripting language, interactive highlighting of histological structures was accomplished through the implementation of a simple mouse-rollover function. This computer-aided instruction software allows students to preview histological structures of interest prior to entering the laboratory, to have additional faculty-directed contact hours during laboratory, and to review material efficiently. The conversion of the originally developed static application into a database-driven tool streamlined the development and modification of the atlas while facilitating the creation of advanced features. Six weeks after launching this interactive atlas, Vanderbilt medical students logged 1,200 hr of use. Through the cooperative efforts of faculty and students, the interactive atlas evolved to meet the educational demands of medical students owing to the development and implementation of a database structure. The functionality and educational value of the interactive atlas in facilitating self-learning was ultimately measured by positive student feedback and use.


Author's keywords: medical education, computer-assisted learning, database, cell biology, tissue biology, virtual atlas, virtual microscopy, microscopic anatomy, computer-assisted instruction, interactive, Web-based learning