The annual Educational Technology Award of the University of Helsinki has this year been granted to the project 'Virtual microscopy as a teaching aid' of the Biomedical Informatics Research Group of the university. The awarded project utilizes advanced digital imaging and network technology to digitise, store, and view microscopy specimens over the internet.
'Virtual specimens' incorporated into educational applications on a web server can be viewed by students on an ordinary PC screen, from any location with a broad band internet connection. The method allows free navigation in a specimen with stepless zooming, and educational annotations as well as overlay graphics to easily be added to the virtual slides.
According to the researchers, all steps from processing to viewing of virtual slides parallel the management of aerial and satellite imagery. By modifying software from the satellite and aerial imaging industry, the researchers have developed a virtual microscopy system that allows fast web-based viewing of full resolution virtual slides.
Virtual microscopy can be of educational value in all fields were microscopy is being used. The researchers are confident that virtual microscopy in the near future will become a key teaching aid, especially within pathology and hematology. Educational material produced by the research group has already been incorporated into the pathology teaching at the University of Helsinki.