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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Weeds of Texas

by Billy E. Warrick
 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

3.5 stars
Content Quality: 3.75 stars
Effectiveness: 3.5 stars
Ease of Use: 3.25 starsstar
Reviewed: Aug 03, 2008 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview: North Blackland Prairie consists of about 1100 acres of protected lands in north central Texas. This web site is designed to enable users to identify weeds that might be found in this specific conservancy area. Identification is by looking at color photos.This particular site includes common names, scientific names, pictures, and descriptions of about 50 common weeds of Texas. There is an additional link called “Plant Anatomy & Glossary,” which is part of Texas A&M’s Botany 201 course - a pretty comprehensive site that provides all sorts of pictures and descriptions for identifying plants. These sites complement each other in understanding plant morphology. Both sites provide good reference material for the general public and students in the region wanting to identify weeds.
Learning Goals: Identification of weeds is the main purpose of this site. This site was not written as a teaching tool. However, it could be used as part of a botany or ecology course, especially lab or field work.
Target Student Population: The general public, as well as users in lower and upper division college courses will benefit from the material.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: No prerequisites are necessary, although some background in botany or weed science may be helpful.
Type of Material:

Collection

Recommended Uses:

This site could be used in many ways. 1. As the basis of a classroom lecture presentation. 2. As an assignment for field collections. 3. As a study tool for students after topic is presented in class.

Technical Requirements: Pictures and text are in HTML/text format and require no extra plug-ins or additional software other than an Internet browser.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 3.75 stars
Strengths:
  • Good representations of images for Texas are provided
  • The images are easy to find and show good representations of the species
  • Species names and descriptions are accurate
  • Additional links are provided to better understand how weeds are identified
Concerns:
  • Number of images (about 50) is fairly limited
  • Images are initially thumb size; enlarging them does not always reveal a clear image of the specimen
  • Descriptions are rather brief
  • Main site ought to include a link to species that are not listed
  • No indication of the completeness of this list of species

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 3.5 stars
Strengths:
  • Material presented is simple and straightforward
  • It is possible to make assignments that go along with this site
  • Information can build knowledge
  • The additional links provide important accessory information
Concerns:
  • Pictures and text could be styled in a more engaging / interactive manner
  • Site is not a key; searching for an identification is trial and error
  • Learning objectives are not clearly stated
  • This is mostly a companion site that might need additional information for use in the classroom

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 3.25 stars
Strengths:
  • Site is fairly well presented for the region
  • The information is easy to navigate
  • Using color images makes material easily accessible
  • No major bugs in use of software or plug-ins were found
Concerns:
  • The list of species ought to be listed alphabetically (or some explanation of the order in which they are presented be provided)
  • At the time of this review, some links (such as Blackland Prairie and Texas A&M Experiment Station) did not go to the right address
  • It might be useful provide a menu bar or other navigation items so that other species (not listed) can be more easily studied

Other Issues and Comments: This is a good site for regional weeds in Texas and it makes sense that it is presented as such, as an accessory for a weed science course. It would be helpful to know what other areas are similar. A summary of what is provided in the plant anatomy links would also improve the site. The site might benefit from navigation bars at the top or the side that guide users to other sites for weed identification (that are not listed in the main site). The information is easily accessible by the general public and is presented in visual form.