This site is a web resource for educators and parents that provides the latest in news, research, and practical information about how the brain learns. The site offers extensive information about topics that relate in some way to the brain and to learning. For example, information in the library section is categorized in several ways including under general topics (such as child development, learning and motivation, reading and language, and thinking and problem solving), education topics (such as assessment and intelligence, bilingual education, learning and behavior in the classroom), and clinical topics (such as ADHD, autism, mood disorders, sleep disorders, traumatic brain injury, etc.). Most of the materials provided in this site are in the form of articles, news, interviews, reviews, interactive resources, and graphics. Information offers a variety of perspectives on each topic. This site also offers a detailed tutorial on the anatomy, physiology, & functionality of the central nervous system. There are also some games (called brain teasers), book reviews, and a ?talk? section that offers a variety of additional information related to learning and the brain from columnists, interviews, and readers.
Type of Material:
Real Player is needed for some aspects of the site.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
The learning goal will depend upon which portion of the site you access. For purposes of this review we chose ?Learning and Memory? and ?Learning and Behavior in the Classroom? as topics to explore.
Target Student Population:
Both undergraduate and graduate students can gain information from this site. Professional educators and parents would also benefit from reading information provided at this site
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Information offers a variety of perspectives on each topic. This site also offers a detailed tutorial on the anatomy, physiology, & functionality of the central nervous system. There are also some games (called brain teasers), book reviews, and a ?talk? section that offers a variety of additional information related to learning and the brain from columnists, interviews, and readers. News is up-to-date, all articles offer recent information, and book reviews and other related websites characterized and rated. Although BrainConnection is a .com, it is a product of Scientific Learning Corporation, whose goal is to offer computer-based professional development and products to aid learning based on the latest information from brain-based (neuroscience) research. One read all the articles in the education section about learning and behavior in the classroom. All articles give the authors credentials and include references. Some reference articles led to other websites that opened in a new window. Most information was presented in popular, magazine-like form rather than in scientific, journal-like form. Most information was synthesized and summarized from original sources by an author, although some summaries linked to the original publication. Another reviewer read the material on this site about learning and memory, which provided a number of articles that view memory and forgetting from several different perspectives. The site provides interviews with reputable individuals that are interesting and informative.
The authors of most articles appear to have legitimate qualifications, although articles are also written by free-lance writers with little expertise in the area they are writing about. This is a concern for students who should be wary of relying only on secondary sources of information.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
There are a number of different perspectives on memory and forgetting. Students can choose to listen to or read some of the resources. Other resources are provided primarily in text form but others have some nice additional touches. Articles have hyperlinked words that can be clicked on to access a glossary. Some other nice touches include: ?How We Remember and Why We Forget? has a nice graphic that shows ?Making a memory;? and ?What is ?Brain-Based? Learning?? provides a brief definition of brain-based learning but also provides principles that can be used in practice.
This site would be a good place for college students to begin researching a topic but should definitely not be their only resource as most information offered is a secondary rather than primary source. Instructors would be advised to send students to this site to get a feel for various topics and perhaps to locate original sources through the references offered at the end of articles The articles reviewed in the section on learning and behavior in the classroom were rather peripherally related to the topic from my perspective as a teacher educator. However, all were connected in some way to learning and the brain. Classifying the large amount of information in this site must be very difficult, so users should be cautioned to explore more than one area and to expect some misclassified articles. A minor concern is that some undergraduate students may get confused because the different articles approach the topic from different perspectives. This can be handled by preparing the students to approach the site with the understanding that the different perspectives can be useful to understand different aspects of learning and memory and provide different insights.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Very well done ? especially navigation. The information is presented in various forms including text,
graphics, and sound, which makes the site more appealing. Articles are mainly 1-5 pages long and are displayed in a very readable format that uses a lot of white space, a single column format, subheadings, and several sections. Navigation around this extensive site works very well and a user has several options for navigation: a search window, tabs, forward and back buttons, a sidebar, but not a site map. Links to an extensive glossary are embedded in many articles
Most icons and graphics seem to be used for decoration rather than to as symbols to indicate specific kinds of articles. It might be useful to limit graphics or to use icons to distinguish between summarized articles, news, links to original references, book reviews, graphics, games, etc. The user can get sidetracked. For example, there are some cute games outside of the information portions that are entertaining.
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