In semester 1, 2014, senior medical students participating in the Rational Use of Investigations (RUI) course at the University of New South Wales used the BEST Network image bank, Slice, in their study of histopathology. Taking advantage of new Slice annotation tool features, including private layers on images, Slice allowed students to work as a group, online, in class or remotely to analyse and annotate virtual slides.

The RUI course focuses on diagnostic pathology and radiology to improve clinical decision making. Students work on cases using signs and symptoms in conjunction with clinical results to arrive at diagnoses. As part of this, students view tissue sections to identify the microscopic changes to tissues that are indicative of disease.

While working in groups to make evidence-based diagnoses, prepare reports and present their conclusions, students participated in multiheader microscope sessions using glass slides as well as digital pathology sessions with images of the same slides using Slice. Both sessions were run in the presence of anatomical pathologists who supported the student’s decision making and corrected any misconceptions.

Senior medical students using Slice and a multiheader microscope to study histopathology.

Students annotated digital slides and shared their interpretations with their peers and anatomical pathologists in an online database in the courses Moodle page (UNSW’s learning management system). Comments by students shared on Moodle were discussed in class with pathologists and were used by students when preparing their histopathology reports.

Annotating images using Slice.

RUI students reported that they liked using Slice, found it easy to use and a good technology solution for studying histopathology collaboratively. They also said that it made the lessons more interesting, with one student commenting that they liked that they were “able to discuss answers and mistakes in a supportive environment” and that Slice “allowed projection of student responses which provided different versions of the answers to be explored and discussed along with incorrect answers to be explained by the tutor”. Surveys found these students are keen to use these annotations tools in more of their courses.

The use of Slice in class at UNSW was the first test of how real-time annotation using Slice allowed students and academics to work collaboratively and the BEST Network is excited to launch student access in the coming month. For more ideas about how you can incorporate Slice into your course or for support contact us at support@best.edu.au.