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Learning objectives and didactic approach
Learning objectives
  • To familiarise yourself with morphologic criteria to differentiate the most common protozoan and helminth parasites
  • To improve your diagnostic skills by solving basic and advanced diagnostic exercises using a virtual microscope
  • To get an overview of diagnostic strategies and to apply or adapt these to specific diagnostic questions
  • To get an overview of alternative methods to microscopy (mainly molecular and immunological methods)
  • To gain experience with diagnostic keys and assistance in choosing appropriate keys (from textbooks or WHO documents) for your own work
  • To understand the basics of diagnostics by optimising diagnostic strategies (e.g. by minimising false positives or false negatives) taking into account the specific diagnostic goal, the consequence of the diagnostic result for the patient and the concepts of predictive values
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Didactic approach

In essence, we offer you the opportunity for active learning by solving diagnostic exercises with a virtual microscope and through quizzes to evaluate your knowledge about diagnosis.

The use of this learning software is not restricted to individuals. It could also complement introductory lectures on the topic, especially in areas where the availability of microscopes is limited.

We suggest the following sequence for this learning programme as optimal for the uninitiated user. Users with basic knowledge can of course start directly with the “Virtual Microscope”.

  • To start with one or several of the five Tutorials which give you an overview of the content included in this learning programme
  • To study the “learning path” under “Foundations” which will introduce test parameters such as sensitivity, specificity and predictive values and with demonstrates the essence of Bayes’ theorem
  • Under “Methods” you will find an overview of diagnostic principles and short descriptions of important diagnostic methods including alternative methods complementing microscopy
  • Under “Diagnostic Keys” you will find the key diagnostic features of protozoa and helminth ova and larvae and have opportunities to familiarise yourself with some diagnostic keys by solving exercises
  • Having studied the above-mentioned chapters, you are prepared to attack the heart of this programme, the chapter “Virtual Microscopy”. Here you are offered some basic training modules where the task is to identify a parasite on a virtual slide. A next step is to differentiate parasites in a multiple-choice test (under “Basic exercises”). The most difficult assignment is to diagnose virtual samples with mixed infections or artefacts (under “Advanced exercises”)
  • Finally, “Parasites in brief” offers you a short summary of parasitic diseases (“Diseases A-Z”) and reference pictures for parasitic protozoa and helminths (“Protozoa A-Z” and “Helminths A-Z”)
  • You will find a bibliography of text books and atlases as well as URLs for interesting websites further on in this chapter (under “Resources”)