Background/purpose: Virtual microscopy has been used for learning and teaching histology and pathology laboratory course for more than 10 years. This study aimed to compare the learning outcome of virtual microscopy with that of real light microscopy in oral histology laboratory course among dental students. Materials and methods: The study included twenty-three undergraduate dental students who took the oral histology laboratory course. The evaluation methods of the study were divided into two parts: questionnaire survey (6 questions) and histological diagnosis ability assessment tests. The data were collected and analyzed statistically. Results: Dental students showed a significantly higher acceptance rate of virtual microscopy than that of real light microscopy for learning oral histology laboratory course (all P-values < 0.01). Moreover, dental students using virtual microscopy with digitized virtual slides for learning oral histology laboratory course possessed significantly better histological diagnosis ability than those using real light microscopy with traditional glass slides for learning oral histology laboratory course (P < 0.001). Conclusion: Virtual microscopy with digitized virtual slides seems to be a great method to learn oral histology laboratory course. Based on the results of our study, we believe that the virtual microscopy with digitized virtual slides may gradually replace the real light microscopy with traditional glass slides for learning and teaching oral histology laboratory course. We foresee that virtual microscopy with digitized microscopic images will be extensively applied in many fields in the near future.
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