This animation/simulation is from a larger site called Introductory Biology that provides learning activities for several topics, including photosynthesis and cellular respiration. The photosynthesis component of this site presents cyclic and non-cyclic photophosphorylation, as well as the Calvin cycle. It is a very good presentation of the essentials of photosynthesis. Each part of the process is explained without being over-cluttered with details. Shockwave flash animations demonstrate cyclic and noncyclic photophosphorylation, as well as some basic reactions of the Calvin cycle. The animations can be played over and over again without having to re-load the page. Text is provided along with the animations to describe reactions. This is a nice, straightforward presentation for the basic steps of the light and light-independent reactions of photosynthesis.
Type of Material:
This site is organized primarily as an animation/simulation, accompanied by text that describes the basic reactions involved in the light and light-independent reactions of photosynthesis.
The material can be used in the classroom to provide an animated lecture about photosynthesis or as an independent study aid to educate students outside the classroom. Three suggested uses for the material include: 1) as a supplement to in class presentations on photosynthesis, especially in an electronic equipped classroom,
2) as an out-of-class assignment, and 3) as part of a distance learning course.
The learning material requires Shockwave Flash to view the animations.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
Students will learn about photosynthesis as a dynamic series of reactions that are well described by this site. This particular portion is part of a larger educational site and is clearly intended to teach the fundamental processes that make up photosynthesis.
Target Student Population:
This site is designed primarily to education college students about the reactions of photosynthesis.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Some prerequisite knowledge of chemical reactions, cell structure, and ATP as an energy molecule in cells is required to help users understand the animations.
The information presents photosynthesis in conceptual bites without verwhelming detail
Animations are clearly laid out with good mix of text and figures
Provides a good walk-through for the basic steps of photosynthesis
Written in a conversational manner and leads student step-by-step through the process
Summaries at the end of each section help convey the information
The mix of animations with text makes the material interactive and engaging
Appropriate vocabulary is used
There is little interactivity on site pages; it might help if all the animations provide play and rewind keys
Using the first person (instead of passive voice) is a bit distracting for users not enrolled in class
A depiction of a leaf (showing the mesophyll cells) and better explanation of where these processes occur would help users to relate to the location of reactions
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
An excellent adjunct to regular class materials; material will greatly assist students understanding of the process
Reactions are clearly explained with text, animations, and summary tables
Summary animations help put the pieces of the process together
Contains links to more detailed information for concepts such as chemiosmosis
Play and rewind buttons entice users to interact with the learning objects
Promotes conceptual understanding
Demonstrates relationships between light dependent and light independent reactions
Easy to use in the classroom setting or as an independent study module
Specific learning objectives were not found on the site; they would help teachers determine how to use site
Material is provided as lecture-style,
but may benefit from some questions or problem-solving tutorials
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The animations are self-explanatory and easy to use
Most of the links are active
Navigation is intuitive, generally straightforward, and follows logical sequence
No major bugs in animations
Links to related concepts or more details help student work through the material
The pages load slowly at first because of active animations during navigation
Ability to control progress of animations is limited primarily to a replay of the entire animation
Would be helpful if animations were larger (or could be expanded); while you can zoom in on part of an animation, the rest of the picture is not visible and you lose perspective
At the time of this review, there were some inactive links
Navigation bars are needed at the top or side of each page
A few typos were noted in the text
Other Issues and Comments:
A very good tool to help beginning biology students understand what happens during the parts of photosynthesis and to understand that it is a continuous process. The animations greatly assist the learning process as they can be repeated easily and the final summary animation clearly indicates the unity of the process. Recommend use as an adjunct to class and/or part of an online presentation. This presentation is like an animated textbook, providing an interactive and engaging learning experience for photosynthesis. The material is straightforward and can be used in lecture or independently as a study aid. The accompanying text is written in a style to suggest that students have acquired some previous knowledge about chemistry and cell biology. The site can be used as a stand-alone learning object for photosynthesis and accurately depicts the processes involved.
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