Interdisciplinary OER Development: Virtual Microscope

The session will introduce the creation of a custom, virtual microscope that serves as an Open Educational Resource (OER) for college-level biology courses. The virtual microscope was developed as an interdisciplinary collaboration between faculty members of the Biology and Chemistry Department and Information Technologies Department at County College of Morris (CCM), Randolph, NJ. It is a product of the Open Textbook Collaborative (OTC), a New Jersey Higher Education program, funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The virtual microscope is an open source, functional, easy-to-use interface integrated into the project’s OpenNJ OTC repository. It contains slides that reflect the curriculum needs of several biology courses at CCM. It seamlessly supports course learning objectives (i.e., Use appropriate laboratory tools and techniques to examine anatomical structures or physiological functions) and may replace the need for students to purchase a microscope as part of a required laboratory kit in online courses. The Virtual Microscope allows online students to practice and hone microscopy skills that they otherwise would not have the opportunity to access as online learners. All students, regardless of modality, will have the ability to view specimens relevant to course content and practice microscopy skills outside of the classroom. This makes the virtual microscope an important study tool for student success. Additionally, as two of the goals of the sponsoring grant are to disseminate and sustain an OER ecosystem across NJ and surrounding states, we will discuss the additional planning and programming needed to incorporate the virtual microscope into OpenNJ.