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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Ginkgo biloba -The Ginkgo Pages-

by Cor Kwant
 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.6 stars
Content Quality: 4.7 stars
Effectiveness: 4.4 stars
Ease of Use: 4.8 stars
Reviewed: May 20, 2005 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview: There are numerous non-commercial websites devoted to a person’s particular interest. The site, The Ginkgo Pages, is one of the best. Attractively laid out, this site touches on all aspects of this unique tree from the name itself to how to propagate the plant. The site provides identification, history, morphology, diversity, chemistry, numerous pictures, and other resources of Gingko biloba. It is a well-designed presentation of the species that will help educate and inspire students about this unique "living fossil." The site is well-maintained, can be viewed in five different languages, and serves as a great resource for individuals doing research on this species - which is the only living member of Phylum Ginkgophyta. The site is intended primarily for Ginkgo enthusiasts, but has great educational value because of a large picture collection and additional information that can be used in the classroom or for independent study.
Learning Goals: Major learning goals include a better appreciation, understanding, and use of Ginkgo biloba in our environment. It is clear that the site intends to be a repository of information on the Ginkgo tree that is accessible to all users, casual and scientific. The site succeeds at this goal.
Target Student Population: Content is appropriate for the general public as well as K-12 and college students that study Ginkgo biloba as part of the course.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: The site is designed to be accessible to a wide range of users. Some basic knowledge of biological and physical concepts is needed to fully understand materials. Use of web browser will be required.
Type of Material: This site is organized primarily as a collection / database of information about Ginkgo biloba.
Recommended Uses: Depending on the level of class, the site could serve as a basic, simplified introduction to the Ginkgo for any user or could be the starting point for a much more in depth exploration.
Technical Requirements: Technical requirements include the ability to read text as HTML with a Java-enabled browser, as well as the viewing of high quality pictures.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.7 stars
Strengths:

  • The site contains a diverse collection of high-quality images for Ginkgo biloba
  • The page on The Tree provides extensive information on the anatomy and culturing, and classification of the Ginkgo
  • The “Specials” page is updated regularly with new information and links
  • Detailed information is provided on the unique reproductive processes of this tree and how to propagate it
  • Content can be viewed using five different languages
  • Information is clearly laid out and easy to follow
  • Site design, organization, and quality make the navigation experience engaging
  • A great resource dedicated solely to the study of one species
Concerns:

  • Classification uses the old system of "Division" rather than "Phylum" that has recently been adopted for all species (including Fungi and Plants)
  • More images are needed to show internal anatomy of roots, leaves, stems, and flowers

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.4 stars
Strengths:

  • Information builds knowledge about Ginkgo biloba
  • Assignments focused on specific grade/course objectives could be built around the information presented
  • Content includes many different aspects (taxonomy, morphology, chemistry) about an important species
  • Pages have many embedded links for further information on people involved and historical background
  • How the tree fits into various cultures provides an international, culturally-broadening experience for students
  • The photographs are very well done, pleasing to view, and will engage students to learn more
Concerns:

  • Learning objectives are not clearly stated
  • The topic is narrow and specialized; it will not easily fit into all curricula
  • More images of internal anatomy of the tree tissues would increase its potential for use
  • It may help to include some video clips, animations, or simulations about the species

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.8 stars
Strengths:

  • The site is very straightforward and searchable
  • Navigation is simple and effective; site map is very useful
  • Material is well organized and easy to navigate
  • Written for user with minimal biology background—little jargon used
  • No defective links or bugs were found
  • Site content available in five languages
  • Site is updated frequently
Concerns:

  • Some of the pages get very long as you scroll through to the end.
  • Links could be more direct—the movie on sperm movement requires clicking on three pages before it actually loads

Other Issues and Comments: This is a great site to learn about Ginkgo biloba. This site will work for a wide variety of purposes. It is accurate and is kept current. It will acquaint a variety of users with the background and biology of this unique plant. The cultural aspects of the site make it particularly appealing. The information is interesting to read and the pictures are very well done. Students and instructors will be motivated by the content and use it as a good reference in the classroom or independent study.