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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Microbial World

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

3 stars
Content Quality: 3 stars
Effectiveness: 3 stars
Ease of Use: 3 stars
Reviewed: May 12, 2005 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview: This website is an online compendium of microbiology: a brief tour through evolutionary history, a look at the hierarchical organization of life, and then on to a description of various microbial organisms and their biology. The site is designed as a resource for students and teachers, combines text and images to present an introductory overview of the microbial world including fungi and prokaryotic examples. Topics covered include activities of microorganisms and discussion of their origin and diversity and their interactions with plants and animals. Included are discussions that are often missing from standard texts such as air sampling procedures and microbiology of composting.
Learning Goals: It appears that this site was developed as a supplement to an undergraduate biology/introductory microbiology course. The information compiled, however, would appear to be useful to students in basic biology courses at the high
school or undergraduate level. The site offers general information on a variety of topics, but does have images that will allow the viewer to understand many microbiological concepts and principles in a more in depth manner.
Target Student Population: The audience who would most benefit from this site would be low-level biology undergraduates and AP Biology high school students.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: None
Type of Material: Learning material
Recommended Uses: Can be supplementary material to textbook
Technical Requirements: None

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 3 stars
Strengths:

  • Written in an easy to read/understand prose that presents information in a logical progression of ideas.
  • Many relevant clear images accompany text.
  • Strong coverage of topics related to fungi, which are often missing from microbiology or general biology textbooks.
  • great deal of information is presented and presented accurately. However, the topics are very broad and not presented in great detail at times.
Concerns:

  • Protists are not included at all and there is really nothing beyond off site links to viruses so it is not really the full microbial world.
  • Although a great deal of information is presented, it must be noted that
    this site has not been modified since 8/2003.
  • There is a great deal of information on bacteria and many fungal organisms, but there is virtually no information on viruses, prions and protists.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 3 stars
Strengths:

  • Primary use as a supplement to a text. For example the details about the
    Winogradsky column and the information about fungi are not found in most introductory biology or even introductory microbiology books.
  • Demonstrates the relationships of microbes to their environment and their importance to the planet.
  • Would serve as a good supplement to course material.
Concerns:

  • There is no challenge to problem solve or test one's knowledge
  • Interactivity is limited to selecting path through site
  • Site is not frequently updated, references on most pages are years old
  • The information is simply presented in an online textbook format and
    does not have any specific areas per se for discussion or experiment development.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 3 stars
Strengths:

  • Links to all features are present on each page
  • Typically warns user when one is going off site.
Concerns:

  • One can lose one's place by linking to other pages in a complex path. This will also present a problem for students who chosse to print out the material rather than read on the screen - they will not have access to the linked material.
  • Some sections of writing are long and in a small font. This may deter young students from reading
  • At times, I found it very hard to navigate areas of large pages of text...it was hard to find your way back to the initial topic.