Health Sciences Education Symposium

First Author Information

John W. Bigbee, Ph.D., Professor, VCU School of Medicine, Dept. of Anatomy and Neurobiology

Additional Author(s) Information

Thomas Woodward, ITMA, Associate Director of Learning Innovation, ALT Lab, Virginia Commonwealth University

Kenneth Foster, Ed.D., Instructional Technologist for Medical Education, VCU School of Medicine, Office of Faculty Affairs

Alice S. Pakurar, Ph.D. (retired), Associate Professor, VCU School of Medicine, Dept. of Anatomy and Neurobiology

Presentation Format


Type of Activity


Original Presentation Date


Date of Submission

May 2017

Abstract/Short Description

The teaching of histology is increasingly relying on digital resources in lieu of traditional microscope laboratories. For nearly 20 years, health science education at VCU has depended on a Digital Histology curricular resource on CD-ROM, previously licensed by Wiley Publishing. Now facing issues related to accessibility and technological constraints, this resource is being re-designed as a web-based, mobile-friendly, interactive, open educational resource for VCU health science students and all learners across the world.

For the past two decades, there has been a steady decline in the use of microscopes in histology instruction (1,2). As a replacement, a number of digital resources have been developed including image collections published along with the major Histology textbooks. However, these packages mostly offer statically labeled images with limited descriptive text. In 1998, faculty in the department of Anatomy and Neurobiology developed a CD-ROM entitled Digital Histology. While cutting edge at the time, this resource served as a digital atlas with on-demand labeling of structures, interactive quizzes, and formative feedback for more than 6000 VCU medical, dental, graduate, and undergraduate students. However, the shift in standards has rendered this program obsolete and inaccessible to modern devices, including Apple and mobile platforms. Additionally, due to its proprietary authoring software, instructional content can no longer be updated.

Purpose/Research Question

Faced with rapidly changing technologies and stronger expectations for student accessibility, faculty are currently co-designing Digital Histology 2.0 (DH2) using free, easy-to-use software that is content-driven and does not require significant expertise in web authoring.


Develop a cross-platform version with compatibility across devices and screen sizes.

Develop an easily editable version with larger, higher resolution images.

Create a framework that is readily shareable among the VCU community.


Deniz, H. and Cakir, H. 2006. J Sci Educ Technol, 15:399-408.

Mione S, Valcke M, and Cornelissen M. 2013. Anat Sci Educ, 6:307-15.


© The Author(s)

Is Part Of

VCU Medical Education Symposium