Knowledge of histology is necessary for a strong understanding of human biology particularly in pathology specializations. Medical schools typically teach histology in the first years but competing pressures on curricula subjects have forced many educators to reduce the amount of time dedicated to normal histology. Additionally, the maintenance of numerous microscopes and slides for teaching purposes is expensive. Using fewer microscopes decreases access to slides and wastes time in readjusting to view the same features. Slides from human tissues are difficult to replace and the quality of glass slides is variable. The challenges of histology education also increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing remote learning and limited access to the hands-on laboratory world.
Virtual microscopy has become a common tool in medical schools over the last few years. Aiforia Education, a cloud-based platform for remote teaching, has expanded on digital slides allowing for active learning and efficient exchange of images. Educators can upload any image from any scanner and share these with an unlimited number of students. Case notes, annotations and background information can also be added. We spoke with Gjermund Gunnes, Professor of Veterinary Pathology at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), for a perspective on teaching histology using Aiforia’s software.
Tell us a bit about the project or research work you used Aiforia’s software for:
Professor Gunnes: So far we have used Aiforia for teaching graduate veterinary students in histology and histopathology.
Why did you decide to use Aiforia?
We looked at several similar systems, but chose Aiforia because of its low cost, while the system at the same time met the requirements that we had listed to satisfy our needs.
How did you find getting started with Aiforia?
Getting started with Aiforia has been extraordinarily easy. Given the number of users (students and lecturers) who in a short time had to start using a new and unfamiliar system, it was surprisingly uncomplicated. In addition, the response from the Aiforia team, when called upon, has been quick and useful.
What is the biggest benefit of Aiforia to your work?
The biggest benefit of using Aiforia for our work has been the increased efficiency in the process of exchanging histological images, and presenting material to a large group of students. Since the possibilities of meeting face to face are limited nowadays, the system has become an invaluable tool for us.