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Cindy Arvidson

MMG 522: Medical Microbiology and Immunology
Best Enhanced
“Virtual laboratory replaces live lab”
- Cindy Arvidson -

The Virtual Interactive Bacteriology Laboratory (VIBL), a set of ten virtual, interactive bacteriology lab exercises, allows MMG522 students to learn a variety of diagnostic microbiology laboratory tests.

The VIBL was developed and refined over a four-year period in which early versions were tested by providing them as a supplement to the wet lab experiences. These exercises replace live laboratory sessions in which a student would typically learn how to culture bacteria, perform various tests and interpret their results in order to identify a given bacterial isolate.

The concepts learned by doing the virtual exercises are the same as those that would be learned in the live laboratory sessions. The virtual exercises are used in MMG 522 as a preparation for a live laboratory session where the student is provided with a case history and a biological sample (real or mock) and is then expected to identify the infectious agent using the techniques learned in the virtual lab exercises.

The first-year curriculum for students in the Colleges of Human and Osteopathic Medicine includes several basic science courses that are taught to a combined class of more than 500 students at four geographic locations in Michigan. In order to maximize the use of laboratory and faculty resources, the VIBL was developed to replace two of the three live 2-hr laboratory sessions. The students are expected to do all of the exercises in the VIBL prior to the live laboratory session as preparation for that session. To ensure that they do so, an on-line quiz, administered through Angel, is given which the students may complete in their own time, and ideally, while they are going through the exercises.

Each lab is presented to the user with a brief description; module instructions are PDF format and a link is available to open to open the module in a new window to provide maximum real estate use of the screen and module interaction. In addition, some of the modules include 2-3 sec video clips of steps that can be accessed in any order by clicking on that step in the list. Having the descriptions and instructions within the website makes the VIBL truly a stand-alone experience.

The VIBL website (http://learn.chm.msu.edu/vibl/) is hosted at a non-secure site that the student can access anytime during the course or after it has been completed, including later in their academic program when some of the same concepts arise.

In order to make them more available, accessible, and visible, the labs have been published in two peer-reviewed on-line repositories. The Cultivation Media for Bacteria module has been published as a visual resource at Microbe Library, an on-line resource for materials for teaching microbiology supported by the American Society for Microbiology. The McGraw-Hill publishing company ascertained permission from ASM to use parts of the Cultivation Media for Bacteria module in the electronic versions of two of their Microbiology texts. The entire VIBL was published at MedEd Portal, an on-line resource for medical school teaching materials published and maintained by the American Association of Medical Colleges.


Jiatyan Chen, virtual university Design and Technology, Project Lead Designer

Geraud Plantegenest, CHM Office of Medical Research and Development, Web Site Design

Programmers: Ben Rhodes, Matthew Guibord, JoAnn Render, Nathan Lounds

Artists and Photographers: Deon Foster, Elizabeth Barney, Jiatyan Chen

Videographer: Christopher Irvin

Culture Preparation: Rachel Spurbeck, Poorna Viswanathan