The Medical Educator’s Resource Guide

John R. Cotter, Ph.D.

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The goal of the Medical Educator’s Resource Guide is to identify World Wide Web sites that are judged to be of interest to basic science educators. In this edition of the Guide, all of the reviews presented below should be of interest to basic science educators who teach histology.

The reviews illustrate how the same subject can be approached in different ways. The first site teaches the basic histology of blood cells with images and a list of pertinent features for each cell type. The next site makes a point of drawing a user’s attention to the features that the authors consider valuable in identifying a structure. The third site utilizes a virtual microscope to simulate the operation of a real microscope and the last website in this issue of the Guide combines histological images with a comprehensive explanation of the histology.

The Medical Educator’s Resource Guide is interested in publishing reviews of websites from all of the medical science disciplines. If you are aware of a site that has the potential for being used in teaching the medical sciences or facilitates the learning of the medical sciences, consider submitting a review of the site to the Guide. Send all submissions to Please include the URL and a short critique that summarizes the essence and utility of the site. Laboratory of Hematology, University Hospital – Angers, France.

Educators, researchers, medical and dental students will find this site helpful. The website guides the user through the histology and pathology of blood. In their opening statement, the authors point out that the site contains “several hundreds of images” that illustrate “normal, reactive, and malignant conditions.” Originally written in French, the authors have included a translation of the text that readers of English will appreciate. The site is recommended as a place to learn the morphology of cells found in the blood and bone marrow. A novice to the field of hematology will benefit the most by using the images to reinforce and emphasize what they have learned in a customized teaching program. A more advanced student will benefit from the clinical cases. (Reviewed by Fady Zaki, B.S., University at Buffalo)

Histology Online. University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. School of Osteopathic Medicine.

The main instructional section of this website “Labs” has the structure of a laboratory manual and the feel of an atlas. The images, which as the authors point out are “representative” of the histological materials used for a class in histology, are embedded with the directions for studying the specimens. The combination is effective and one can easily imagine students working with or wanting to work with a microscope and a computer side by side. The way they are used in this class may be different because the authors recommend using the site in preparation for each laboratory topic. With the exception of the stages of blood cell development, the basic morphology of the tissues and organs at the light microscopic level are adequately covered. But the authors indicate the site and its images are best used as a supplement to the microscope laboratory. Other sites should be examined for images of electron photomicrographs. Many of the units close with a grouping of the images that dramatically illustrate the morphology of the different tissues and organs and all of the units end with a substantial quiz. (Reviewed by John R. Cotter, Ph.D., University at Buffalo)

The Virtual Slide Box. University of Iowa.

The Virtual Slide Box is set up like a real microscope laboratory. The users of the site view digital microscope slides that illustrate the microscopic structure of the organs. The users are given instructions for examining the slides and just as in a real laboratory they are on their own to locate the structures that are contained in the images of the organs. A search is accomplished by moving a cursor over a selected area of a digitized specimen and magnifying the selected area with a magnifying tool or by selecting the desired level of magnification from a magnification menu. The speed with which this is done is surprisingly fast thus making it very easy to quickly examine an entire specimen. The process does require some skill and understanding of organ structure, however. That may be the object of the exercise depending on how the site is to be used. The Virtual Slide Box contains a sampling of many organ systems and parts of the body. The site is truly incredible. The authors of this site have placed a virtual microscope at the disposal of anyone wishing to use one or see how one might be used in teaching histology. (Reviewed by John R. Cotter, Ph.D., University at Buffalo)

Welcome to Histology at SIU SOM. Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

Welcome to Histology, which is authored by Dr. David King, is an inordinately helpful, instructive source of histological information. It’s strong points are: precise verbal definitions of concepts and the morphology of structures that are inherent to histology; excellent photomicrographs that can be enlarged; precise thoughtful labeling of the images; logical, extended presentations of given topics, for example, the cells that comprise connective tissue, the basic structure of the neuron, the layering of the cerebral cortex, and the types and distribution of collagen; a good balance between morphology and function; and an avoidance of superficial treatments of cells and tissues. Though well organized, instructive and interesting, this resource is more useful for an individual who has some prior knowledge of histology. The information which is very understandable and organized would be overwhelming to one who lacks a previously garnered overall view of histology. As apparently implied or suggested in the material, a hard copy of a standard histology text remains a requirement of the student. On the other hand, this presentation is an outstanding review for a student who wishes to test oneself or extend one’s knowledge. This reviewer did get lost in the maze of information and experienced some difficulty returning to a given page after having requested an enlargement of an image. This may not be an issue with users who are knowledgeable in the use of computer-based teaching programs. Dr. King’s invitation for the reader’s comments and questions can only serve to improve his program. (Reviewed Chester A. Glomski, M.D., University at Buffalo)

Published Page Numbers: 40-41