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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Plants in Motion

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.5 stars
Content Quality: 4.5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.5 stars
Ease of Use: 4.5 stars
Reviewed: Jul 28, 2003 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview: This is an easy-to-read and easy-to-use Website with excellent depictions of plant motion. Time-lapse movies of different plant movements, along with fun learning projects and instructions on how to make similar movies are included at this Website. Germination, photomorphogenesis, tropisms, circadian responses, and general growth are demonstrated through use of quicktime video clips to show these movements. There is also information on creating flip books and doing time lapse photography, as well as links to plants in movies (Hollywood) and plants in art.
Learning Goals: Users will learn about plant movements through time-lapse photography to visualize plant growth that is normally too slow to be noticed by the human eye. Teachers will benefit from instructions provided on how to do similar time-lapse and flip book projects to study movement.
Target Student Population: Users will acquire different levels of appeciation and/or knowledge depending on the audience. General users and "budding" plant biologists may be motivated to learn more about plants whereas college students may use video clips for detailed understanding of plant movements.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Some basic knowledge of plant growth terminology and processes (e.g., phototropism, gravitropism, etc.) may be needed if time-lapse clips are studied in detail. Students viewing the movies with no background material will see plant growth in a novel way. No prerequisite knowledge is needed for the motivational aspects of this Website.
Type of Material: Animation / Simulation. More specifically, frames-based navigation, basic text descriptions, and movies in QuickTime format.
Recommended Uses: Video clips can be used in lecture or independently to view short demonstrations of plant movement. Plant Dance, Flipbooks, Plant Art and other materials can be used for entertainment. Website is intended to serve as a resource for nonprofit educational use.
Technical Requirements: Movies require the Apple QuickTime browser plug-in to be visualized; link to plug-in is provided. Some of the movies are over 1 MB in size. Fast Internet connections will greatly help in download speed. Works well in current versions of Internet Explorer and Netscape.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths:

Quality of Content:4.5, 5.0 = 4.5



  • Good descriptions of processes visualized in animations
  • Clearly laid out
  • Good selection of materials; updated when possible
  • Reasonale vocabulary level
  • Quality of graphics detailed enough to view movements
Concerns:

  • More examples of individual movements (particularly vegetative and reproductive growth) would be useful
  • Perhaps more side-by-side visualizations would improve learning

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths:

Potential Effectiveness: 4.5, 5.0 = 4.5



  • Great tool for visualizing plant growth processes
  • Accurately and effectively demonstrates relationships
  • Good for viewing concepts that are hard to describe
  • Promotes problem solving
  • Promotes conceptual understanding
  • Provides instructions to produce similar materials
  • Engaging and interesting materials presented
Concerns:

  • Perhaps specific assignments could accompany each of the animations

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths:

Ease of Use: 4.5, 4.9 = 4.5



  • Instructions are clear and intuitive
  • Simple site design and page layouts
  • Easy to navigate and fast
  • Quick-loading video clips make them easy to use in lecture and keep students interested when browsing the Website
  • Some animations loop by default for maximum effect
  • No defective links
  • No major bugs
Concerns:

  • The beginning Webpage implies "showtimes," and may mislead users that site has limited access
  • Large file size requires long download times which could be frustrating for users with modems
  • The instruction Webpage needs to be included as a navigation link (as Home)
  • QuickTime is the only available format. Perhaps streaming format would reduce possible download time concerns (though image quality may be a trade-off)
  • More plant science projects in the Teaching / Learning Projects section would be welcome.

Other Issues and Comments:

  • Great Website. Well-done animations using quality graphics help visualize growth processes that cannot be detected bythe human eye.
  • Quick-loading, accurate, and entertaining clips can be easily integrated into lectures
  • Authors chose a nice array of interesting and educational aspects of plant movement