An open-source e-learning platform for the remote interactive training


An open-source e-learning platform for the remote interactive training


Luca Lianas, Marco Enrico Piras, Gianluigi Zanetti. E-mail


The use of scanned images distributed and commented via Internet (s.c. Virtual Microscope) is being adopted by several Universities and teaching organizations in order to meet the basic requirement for Medical educational curricula as part of the training in medical and biological courses and as a tool to improve the quality of morphological diagnostics. The integration within the Learning Management System of teaching institutions of the functionality of a microscope via an interactive application can profitably support the understanding of tissue structure at cellular level, leading to the proper evaluation of biological structures. This approach would lead also to other advantages, like the reduced economic costs (the number of microscopes to be acquired is reduced) and the flexibility offered to students by the possibility of choosing time and place for Virtual Microscopy practicing.


CyTest is an open-source e-learning platform we developed for the CyTest Project ( to support the remote interactive training of cytologists and report on its support for bioimages sharing and integrated virtual microscopy capabilities. The platform is based on the integration between Moodle, an e-learning platform designed to create personalized learning environments, and OME OMERO, a well-known open source software for visualization, management and analysis of biological microscope images. The former is used to provide access to a database of questions produced by specialized trainers and the latter provides access to digital pathology images and related metadata. The web platform can be used with a wide range of devices, it is compatible with most of the image formats produced by digital slides scanners and it can scale to a wide student body. Teachers can create courses; populate the Question Bank and aggregate questions in quizzes, while students can take classes and tests. When creating questions, teachers can choose images previously loaded and annotated. The system provide two new types of questions: multiple choice, focused on an image and its ROIs, and interactive, where students identify areas on the image by markers that will be automatically compared to instructor’s specified ROIs. The system could be easily extended to support the teaching of different kind of digital pathology fields, like histopathology.

Innovative features

  • integration of Virtual Microscopy within the learning system;
  • images are an active part of the training.

Potential users

Researchers and developers.

Impact sectors

Health - ICT

Other resources

  5. L. Lianas, M. E. Piras, E. Musu, S. Podda, F. Frexia, E. Ovcin, G. Bussolati, G. Zanetti, CyTest - A new platform for training and testing in cytopathology. The Diagnostic pathology Journal, Volume 2, page 208 - august 2016.
  6. L. Lianas, M. E. Piras, E. Musu, S. Podda, F. Frexia, E. Ovcin, G. Bussolati, G. Zanetti, CyTest – An Innovative Open-source Platform for Training and Testing in Cythopathology. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, Volume 228, page 674–681 - july 2016.

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