Real education with virtual materials

Plant stem This paper, just pub­lished in the Journal of Biological Education, strikes me as hav­ing a lot of poten­tial. The method would also be appro­pri­ate for online learn­ing and in devel­op­ing coun­tries where facil­it­ies might be lim­it­ing. Why not give it a go?


Stephen P. Bonser, Patrick de Permentier, Jacinta Green, Gary M. Vela , Paul Adam and Rakesh K. Kumar (2013) Engaging stu­dents by emphas­ising botan­ical con­cepts over tech­niques: innov­at­ive prac­tical exer­cises using vir­tual micro­scopy, Journal of Biological Education, DOI: 10.1080/00219266.2013.764344
Student interest in bot­any and enrol­ment in plant sci­ences courses tends to be low com­pared to that in other bio­lo­gical dis­cip­lines. One poten­tial way of increas­ing stu­dent interest in bot­any is to focus on course mater­ial designed to raise stu­dent enthu­si­asm and sat­is­fac­tion. Here, we intro­duce and eval­u­ate vir­tual micro­scopy in bot­any teach­ing. Virtual micro­scopy uses high-resolution digital ‘vir­tual slides’ that allow stu­dents to explore micro­scope sec­tions without the advanced skills required to pre­pare glass slides. Questionnaire feed­back from stu­dents indic­ated that stu­dents found the vir­tual slides an effect­ive learn­ing tool. Further, we found that stu­dent per­form­ance in assess­ments was sig­ni­fic­antly higher when using vir­tual slides than when using tra­di­tional glass slides. We sug­gest that vir­tual slides are an effect­ive tool for increas­ing stu­dent sat­is­fac­tion in intro­duct­ory bot­any courses, and have the poten­tial for increas­ing stu­dent enrol­ment in higher-level courses (hon­ours) and research.

AJ Cann. ORCID 0000-0002-9014-3720

Alan Cann is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Leicester and formerly Internet Consulting Editor for AoB.

1 Response

  1. Kirsten Hogild says:

    The idea of get­ting bet­ter edu­ca­tion and wider audi­ence is good.
    How do you see it being pub­lished
    Best regards