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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Biome Basics

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.5 stars
Content Quality: 4.5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.75 stars
Ease of Use: 4.5 stars
Reviewed: Mar 18, 2007 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview:

Tutorial site designed for use with elementary students. Provides easy to understand, general information for all seven biomes. The site is very easy to navigate and designed with younger children in mind. This site presents a brief overview of terrestrial biomes plus a generic ocean biome. Selecting a particular biome takes the user to a screen with a range of topics about that biome. Each section contains a map showing the geographic locations of that biome, basic characteristics, organisms found in the biome, and further links. Additional topics unique to each biome/ecosystem are also provided. It contains a teacher information page that contains additional links specifically for teachers and specifies which Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) are met by the information in this page. The original version of this document was done as a project for the class EDUC 343: Computers in the Elementary Classroom, during the spring semester of 1997 at the University of Richmond.

Learning Goals:

This site was created to address the following Virginia Science SOL: 3.6 The student will investigate and understand that environments support a diversity of plants and animals that share limited resources. Key concepts include: 1. water-related environments (pond, marshland, swamp, stream, river, and ocean environments). 2. dry-land environments (desert, grassland, rainforest, and forest environments). This site also addresses Content Standard C of the National Science Standards. As a result of activities in grades K-4, all students should develop and understanding of 1. The characteristics of organisms. 2. Life cycles of organisms. 3. Organisms and environments.

Target Student Population:

Designed for K-4. May be useful as an introduction trough grade 9.

Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:

The site is designed to be accessible by a wide range of users. Knowledge of how to use a web browser will be required.

Type of Material:

Tutorial. Very general information pertaining to the climatic conditions, flora/fauna, and interesting facts of the seven biomes.

Recommended Uses:

This site should be used to introduce biological diversity and the simplest of levels. Very well designed for the target population. Use of the additional links can provide a more comprehensive.

Technical Requirements:

Basic site requires only current internet browser.


Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths:
  • The climatic conditions that characterize each biome are given along with where it is generally located on the planet.
  • Each biome has a description of the physical environment and a few representative plants and animals.
  • Each biome/ecosystem has list of links to additional sites focused on that topic for additional information. These links increase the breadth and depth of information collected through this site.
  • The information is well supported, clearly organized, and simply stated.
  • The site is colorful and uncluttered.
Concerns:
  • Information is very abbreviated and give only the barest outline of the information for that biome.
  • Characterization of plants and animals in a particular biome is incomplete.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths:
  • Each biome/ecosystem provides a wide range of information that is suitable for a variety of investigations.
  • Assignments could easily be built around the information presented; they will be needed if students are expected to meet specific objectives through the site.
  • The links for each biome allows the student to gather information on climate, animals, and plants found in that specific biome.
  • The maps allow student to identify were each biome is located visually.
  • Specific Standards of Learning (for Virginia) are addressed as well as National Science Standards.
Concerns:
  • Not designed to encourage problem solving.
  • Amount of detail provided is suitable only for elementary and middle school. Additional links needed for any higher level use.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths:
  • Navigation very easy and generally intuitive.
  • No pop-up windows and all links active.
  • The Teacher Page provides not only a list of references, but a comprehensive list of links for additional resources.
  • Written for user with minimal biology background—little jargon used.
Concerns:
  • Insufficient detail for most users above middle school.
  • Link to “Other Student Projects” does not work.

Other Issues and Comments:

The site will be generally useful through middle school levels. Above that level, the site will not provide sufficient detail but would serve as a basic review. The site accurately meets the needs of this target audience and can provide a starting point for High School. The site is attractively designed.