Transition of a dental histology course from light to virtual microscopy

Frank J. Weaker, Damon C. Herbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


The transition of the dental histology course at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Dental School was completed gradually over a five-year period. A pilot project was initially conducted to study the feasibility of integrating virtual microscopy into a traditional light microscopic lecture and laboratory course. Because of the difficulty of procuring quality calcified and decalcified sections of teeth, slides from the student loan collection in the oral histology block of the course were outsourced for conversion to digital images and placed on DVDs along with a slide viewer. The slide viewer mimicked the light microscope, allowing horizontal and vertical movement and changing of magnification, and, in addition, a feature to capture static images. In a survey, students rated the ease of use of the software, quality of the images, maneuverability of the images, and questions regarding use of the software, effective use of laboratory, and faculty time. Because of the positive support from the students, our entire student loan collection of 153 glass slides was subsequently converted to virtual images and distributed on an Apricorn pocket external hard drive. Students were asked to assess the virtual microscope over a four-year period. As a result of the surveys, light microscopes have been totally eliminated, and microscope exams have been replaced with project slide examinations. In the future, we plan to expand our virtual slides and incorporate computer testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1213-1221
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Computer-assisted learning
  • Dental education
  • Histology
  • Light microscopy
  • Virtual microscopy
  • Virtual slides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Dentistry(all)


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