Whole slide imaging for educational purposes

J Pathol Inform. 2012:3:46. doi: 10.4103/2153-3539.104908. Epub 2012 Dec 20.


Digitized slides produced by whole slide image scanners can be easily shared over a network or by transferring image files to optical or other data storage devices. Navigation of digitized slides is interactive and intended to simulate viewing glass slides with a microscope (virtual microscopy). Image viewing software permits users to edit, annotate, analyze, and easily share whole slide images (WSI). As a result, WSI have begun to replace the traditional light microscope, offering a myriad of opportunities for education. This article focuses on current applications of WSI in education and proficiency testing. WSI has been successfully explored for graduate education (medical, dental, and veterinary schools), training of pathology residents, as an educational tool in allied pathology schools (e.g., cytotechnology), for virtual tracking and tutoring, tele-education (tele-conferencing), e-learning, virtual workshops, at tumor boards, with interactive publications, and on examinations. WSI supports flexible and cost-effective distant learning and augments problem-oriented teaching, competency evaluation, and proficiency testing. WSI viewed on touchscreen displays and with tablet technology are especially beneficial for education. Further investigation is necessary to develop superior WSI applications that better support education and to design viewing stations with ergonomic tools that improve the WSI-human interface and navigation of virtual slides. Studies to determine the impact of training pathologists without exposure to actual glass slides are also needed.

Keywords: Digital; education; proficiency testing; training; whole slide imaging.