After making my grand plan for monthly online eye pathology teaching/discussion sessions, I now have a dozen under my belt. Here are some reflections on how it’s gone so far, and what might be different (or the same) in future.
For each session, I gather 8-10 cases based around a theme. Since my audience includes a mix of ophthalmologists, histopathologists, students and researchers with variable experience, I focus on common or important pathology rather than rare diseases. For each case, I scan one or two representative slides using Micropix’s slide imaging software (which I’ve talked about previously).
I upload the images to PathPresenter, a site where you can share scans and photomicrographs (and radiology images). In the PathPresenter interface, I then create a presentation of all the cases in the session. I’ve learned to also upload a Powerpoint file with introductory information (eg “If you have a question, unmute yourself to speak”) and case details, and I now intersperse Powerpoint slides with the scans. The Powerpoint can’t be edited in PathPresenter, so if I notice an error I need to upload a corrected one.
For each batch of cases, I schedule 2 discussion sessions to cater for time differences. Although I miss in-person sessions, going online is a good opportunity to get international perspectives. I share links to the PathPresenter presentation by email and on social media. My email also includes Zoom links for the live discussion. I provide the joining links by private message to interested people who contact me via social media.
Currently, I don’t require pre-registration. That’s not been a problem, although it does leave me not knowing whether anyone will show up. I’ve not played to an empty room so far 😛 Also, many of the attendees just lurk (ie attend without saying anything). Since I don’t know who they are and want to keep things low-pressure, I don’t want to fire questions at the lurkers, but it can lead to long silences or 1-2 attendees doing most of the talking.
Themes so far
April – common corneal pathology
May – corneal stromal dystrophies
June – non-neoplastic globes
July – uveal melanoma globes
September – eyelid pathology
November – orbit
I’m in two minds about themed sessions. They’re good for attracting specific groups of attendees: for example, corneal researchers or ocular oncologists. However, it’s more time-consuming to gather the right kind of cases, especially if I haven’t already scanned them. From now on, I’ll probably use more of a mix and maybe arrange specific themed sessions around special interest groups.
The online sessions are a lot more work than in-person teaching (where my prep work was simply putting interesting slides in a box as I came across them). However, I’m reaching a wider audience and hopefully inspiring some to think about eye pathology.
If you attend or organise online teaching, I’d love to hear your experiences and suggestions 🙂