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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Biomes of the World

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4 stars
Content Quality: 4 stars
Effectiveness: 3.5 stars
Ease of Use: 4.5 stars
Reviewed: Aug 30, 2004 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview:

This site is sponsored by the Missouri Botanical Gardens and allows the viewer to explore the characteristics of most major terrestrial biomes (as well as marine and fresh water ecosystems) from several perspectives. Selecting an icon representing a biome/ecosystem takes the user to a screen with a range of topics about that biome. While these differ from biome to biome, each biome is physically described, locations indicated, and predominant life forms are given. Additional topics unique to each biome/ecosystem are also provided. A few biomes have more personalized descriptions provided by students who have visited the biome. Each biome page has links to more web sites about that topic.

Learning Goals:

No major learning goals are specified. The site serves only as a tutorial.

Target Student Population:

This site is designed for middle school through high school. It may also serve
as a review/tutorial for developmental college courses.

Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:

The site is designed to be accessible by a wide range of users. Use of web browser will be required.

Type of Material:

Tutorial.

Recommended Uses:

This site should be used as a tutorial to review general information pertaining
to the ecology of ecosystems and biomes. By using the information provided and
the additional links, this site could serve as a starting point for teaching
basic research skills.

Technical Requirements:

Basic site requires only current internet browser.


Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths:

  • The environmental conditions that determine each biome are given along with where it is generally located on the planet.
  • Each biome has a description of the physical environment and predominant communities.
  • Contains many images of biome in general plus organisms found within the biome.
  • Each biome/ecosystem has list of links to additional sites focused on that topic for additional information. These links increase the breadth and depth of information collected through this site.
  • The site is easy to navigate and the material is well organized.
Concerns:

  • Terminology is not consistent on all pages and may confuse students. On first page, the top label is ?Biomes of the World? and lower headings refer to ecosystems rather than biomes.
  • While each section needs some differences in topics covered within each, it would help to standardize labels and the order of those topics that are appropriate to all biomes/ecosystems?e.g., What?s it like? Where is it located?, etc.
  • The material covered for each biome/ecosystem is inconsistant. Some of the
    biomes have for more information available.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 3.5 stars
Strengths:

  • Each biome/ecosystem provides a wide range of information that is suitable for a variety of investigations. Provides an nice review of each of the major biomes/ecosystems.
  • Illustrations suitable for both simplified and more comprehensive presentations of this material.
  • Assignments could easily be built around the information presented; they will be needed if students are expected to meet specific objectives through the site.
  • The site could be used as an introduction to information gathering and
    internet research.
Concerns:

  • Not designed to encourage problem solving.
  • No specific learning objectives provided.
  • Some biomes have a ?Frequently Asked Questions? section; it would help to have an FAQ section for each biome/ecosystem.
  • No assessment opportunities, such as review questions.


Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths:

  • Navigation very easy and generally intuitive. Every page has a ?Home? icon to return to home page. No prior skills or background needed.
  • Side bar listing of pages within a section help user know what is available and keep track of where they are within that section.
  • All links within site proper are functional.
  • Written for user with minimal biology background?little jargon used.

Concerns:

  • May not be detailed enough for all users.
  • After leaving site home page, icons for biomes/ecosystems are difficult to decipher; a text line with each icon would clarify.
  • Found broken links in the lists of links to sources outside the main site.


Other Issues and Comments:

This site is a well organized review of the major biomes/ecosystems. The site will be generally useful up through introductory biology. Above that level, the site will not provide sufficient detail but would serve as a basic review. The site accurately meets the needs of the target audience and is an enjoyable experience. The site is attractively designed and the visual icons are generally helpful.