After six months of research and development and a yearlong 3-D animation project, OSU last spring launched a series of three biology courses online that effectively puts a microscope in the hands of every distance student.
The academic breakthrough is the result of a partnership between Oregon State Ecampus—the university’s online education unit—and the departments of Integrative Biology and Botany and Plant Pathology in the College of Science.
“We had to create an alternative that gives students the foundational experience of being in a lab where they can maneuver a microscope’s settings and adjust the images just as they would in a face-to-face environment,” said Shannon Riggs, the Ecampus director of course development and training.
To create the virtual lab experience, Ecampus multimedia developers mounted a camera on top of an actual microscope and took pictures of what was on the slides. The photos are woven into 3-D animation, which allows students to adjust the lighting, zoom and manipulate the images as they would if they were in a Corvallis laboratory.
The classes, developed by Dr. Andrew Bouwma and Dr. Genevieve Weber, have reached enrollment capacity quickly each term.