Interactions between world-class research and teaching can bring truly remarkable impacts. The ‘Dundee Virtual Microscope’ a collaboration between Dr Paul Felts from the School of Science & Engineering and the OME group led by Professor Jason Swedlow in the School is a prime example.
The ‘Dundee Virtual Microscope’ is run by the OME group and is a special instance of OME’s OMERO, tuned for teaching needs. It is a free service that has been used by Paul since 2012 in the teaching of histology. Every year, Paul is training ~60-80 students as part of their BSc Histology modules, and they use the resource intensely. In addition, students studying medicine, dentistry and other science degrees also use the Virtual Microscope resulting in over 650 students using the resource annually in Dundee.
In December, Dr Paul Felts, a Senior Lecturer in CAHID, was awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching at the University of Dundee for academic year 2019-20. This award was in recognition of the substantive impact he has made on student learning at the University of Dundee, and internationally. This included his collaborative project work to introduce the ‘Virtual Microscope’.
Dr Paul Felts said, “I am delighted to be a recipient of the Chancellor’s Award, and grateful to Prof. Swedlow and the OME Team for their decade-long, and continuing, work on the Virtual Microscope. It was an unexpected collaboration that started as a chance conversation over a morning coffee in the Garland Café, and now provides a useful resource to our students.”
Professor Jason Swedlow said, “The OME Team has really enjoyed working with Paul and supporting his work with hundreds of Dundee’s students every year. We built OMERO to be a research tool, and it is used by researchers all over the world. But it is great to see it used in a wholly different context, and in particular to support Paul’s efforts to train the next generation of students and professionals.”
The Virtual Microscope has been especially useful in this academic year, providing remote access for students to teaching materials from wherever they are. Paul Felts said, “Teaching histology online would have been close to impossible without it, in my opinion. It has been the equivalent of delivering a high-grade microscope and slides to every student’s home.”
It is a resource which is acknowledged as having transformed the teaching worldwide of microanatomy. Harvard Medical School also uses OMERO for training medical students in histology and pathology and chose to make this a public resource. This resource runs on Amazon AWS, and is maintained by Glencoe Software, OME’s commercial partner (https://glencoesoftware.com). There are several other teaching systems based on OME’s work scattered around universities in the EU and USA.
About Dundee Virtual Microscope
The Dundee VM is available to all University of Dundee staff and students via https://learning.openmicroscopy.org by their standard University log in and password. Any one interested in building their own VM could download and install OMERO from https://www.openmicroscopy.org/omero/ or contact the OME team at firstname.lastname@example.org or https://forum.image.sc/tag/omero.
OMERO is open source software, and used by 1000s of institutions worldwide, and is the result of > £19M in funding from Wellcome, BBSRC, European Commission, National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative.
About the Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching at the University of Dundee
Winners of the Chancellor's Award must demonstrate enhancement to practice, sustainable change, and impact as a direct result of their teaching. Furthermore, the Award demands evidence of support for transformational learning and a lasting legacy from the changes and impact which the winners effected.