JOURNAL ARTICLE

Self-instructional "virtual pathology" laboratories using web-based technology enhance medical school teaching of pathology

Alberto M Marchevsky, Anju Relan, Susan Baillie
Human Pathology 2003, 34 (5): 423-9
12792914
Second-year medical students have traditionally been taught pulmonary pathophysiology at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Medicine using lectures, discussion groups, and laboratory sessions. Since 1998, the laboratory sessions have been replaced by 4 interactive, self-instructional sessions using web-based technology and case-based instruction. This article addresses nature of transformation that occurred from within the course in response to the infusion of new technologies. The vast majority of the course content has been digitized and incorporated into the website of the Pathophysiology of Disease course. The teaching histological slides have been photographed digitally and organized into "cases" with clinical information, digital images and text, and audio descriptions. The students study the materials from these cases at their own pace in 2 "virtual pathology" laboratory, with a few instructors supervising the on-site sessions. The students discuss additional cases available on the website in 2 other laboratory sessions supervised by a pulmonologist and a pathologist. Marked improvement in student participation and satisfaction was seen with the use of web-based instruction. Attendance at laboratory sessions, where the students had previously been required to bring their own microscopes to study histological slides at their own pace, increased from approximately 30% to 40% of the class in previous years to almost 100%. Satisfaction surveys showed progressive improvement over the past 4 years, as various suggestions were implemented. The value of web-based instruction of pathology at the UCLA School of Medicine is discussed.

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