"Sleep : From A to Z" was developed for the 1999 Thinkquest Internet Challenge. The self-described purpose was to help you learn more about those 25 some years you spend with your head on the pillow. Learn about the basics of sleep the elements and stages of sleep, sleep health & sleeping healthily, current sleep science & research, sleep disorders and more. <p>The site is text heavy with two interactive quiz modules, one covers sleep-related vocabulary and the other covers general sleep information. The site may be useful as an introductory supplement.
After visiting all the pages on this site, students should have an understanding of sleep basics (e.g., What is it? Why do we sleep?), theories of and research on dreaming, and a knowledge of a variety of sleep disorders.
Target Student Population:
The site was created mainly for students in K-12, although it could be used for introductory psychology students.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
No prerequisite knowledge is necessary to benefit from the site.
Type of Material:
This website is a combination of lecture/presentation and tutorial.
While the site could be used to supplement course readings or lectures, one reviewer was hesitant about making such a recommendation.
A Netscape or MSIE browser version 4.0 or higher is recommended for viewing this site. These pages are enhanced by Macromedia Flash 4.0. Download and installation of the Flash 4 player is strongly recommended for proper viewing.
Evaluation and Observation
This is an attractive, well-designed site. In general, the material is well-written (although there are some grammatical errors). One of the better sections is the one on sleep disorders. Questions are answered for readers about sleep disorders such as "When do I know I have this disorder?" and the creators of the site do suggest that readers see their doctor concerning suspected sleep disorders. The site also offers information on how to get a good night's rest and a thorough historical discussion of beliefs about dreaming.
There are a number of concerns about this website. One major one is that there is incorrect or misleading information given. For example, information is presented on dream symbolism and interpretation as though this is a significant and important theory of dreaming in modern psychology. In another example, the site's creators state that today's ideas about dreaming stem from Freud and that Freud conducted experiments to test his dream theories. There are also some major omissions, such as no explanation of sleep paralysis. Another concern arises as the site was developed around 1999 and has not been updated to reflect more recent research findings. Overall, this site is equivalent to a fairly decent high school term paper, but it is certainly not an advanced tutorial on sleep.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The site is creative and engaging.
There are many concerns associated with using this site as a teaching tool. Most of these have to do with students potentially accepting the information on the site as fact, rather than critically analyzing it for currency and accuracy. While a reference list is provided, there are many outdated references and, because there are no citations in the text, it is impossible to know what information was taken from an old reference and what is from a more recent source. Also, in the news and reports section, public interest stories are presented alongside reports of research without much discrimination.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The way this site is designed and organized makes information easy to find. As long as a student has a java-enabled computer/browser, s/he should be able to find information and to take the quizzes with ease.
There are some broken links in the list of contacts for more information as well as in the news and reports section. There are also a great many contacts for which mailing addresses only are given; URLs for these organizations should be provided.
Other Issues and Comments:
This website was created by middle or high school students and was an entry in the "ThinkQuest" web site competition. Although the effort that went into deeloping the site is evident, it should not be used as a teaching tool (unless the assignment is to analyze the site for errors and omissions, or an instructor takes great pains to let students know what is correct on the website and what is incorrect).