Digital Imaging to Boost Productivity in Health Sciences
The School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences (LMMS), is exploring ways in which digital imaging can enhance research, teaching and learning for its staff and students.
A stimulating Digital Pathology Solutions workshop, attended by the Dean and Head of School, Professor William Daniels, was conducted by external companies, Leica Biosystems and SMM Instruments at the Physiology Department’s histology lab under the theme: “Integrating Teaching and Assessment”.
The workshop featured the use of scanners in digital pathology and digital slidebox software as a solution to teaching and examining nightmares, while there was a live demonstration of the software with participants getting hands-on experience as well as application solutions for their department’s specification.
Human Physiology Senior Laboratory Technician, Mrs Shoohana Singh, said: ‘It was important to hold this workshop as part of ongoing improvements towards teaching and learning. Technology is ever-changing and being one of the leading universities our adaptation to this should be encouraged.’
Singh said it was essential to raise the awareness of UKZN academics and students about the useful resources available. ‘The software called digital slidebox is extremely versatile in its applications. It is not restricted only to histology or pathology.’
Slidebox - a web-enabled learning management system enabling learning through digital pathology – boasts features such as online interactive teaching and learning; real time feedback on assessments and tests; the uploading of any file format; heat mapping to track students’ progress, and clinical case study and diagnosis.
The speakers reminded the audience that students of today grew up in the technology age. This generation referred to as Gen Y Students or Millennials, they said, had never known the world without the internet. With access to information at their fingertips, they are a generation where instant gratification is part of their daily life experience. In the education environment digital imaging provides an ideal platform for this demand in teaching and learning.
Benefits of digital imaging include:
- unifying learning material (all students view the same material)
- allowing zooming from low magnification to high-powered magnification while maintaining excellent resolution, creating a platform for in-depth studying of structure and function
- material is accessible via the internet
- live interaction and full control of remote installations with instantaneous responses are possible
- as an assessment tool, it has features of flexibility, statistics generation, and immediate feedback.
Postgraduate students said they could envisage how digital imaging could advance their research in terms of quality of data as well as time needed for data generation.
The School of LMMS has migrated to a digital microscopy platform. Its undergraduate histology laboratory is fully equipped with networked desktop computers and an HDMI projection system. It created its own database of histology slides using a recently purchased slide scanner to capture the various images. This helps not only for practical teaching purposes but also in archiving electronic copies of precious human specimens collected over the years.