Real education with virtual materials
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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

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 comment

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

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