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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


TOX TOWN

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.75 stars
Ease of Use: 4.25 starsstar
Reviewed: Sep 14, 2008 by Health Sciences
Overview:

Tox Town is an interactive learning resource developed by the National Library of Medicine to provide information about the location of toxic substances in our environment. The learning resource is available in both English and Spanish. It includes a teachers guide designed for K-12 teachers.Tox Town consists of five neighborhoods (city, farm, town, border, and port) where environmental concerns abound. There is no cost associated with using the resources at Tox Town.

 

Learning Goals:

 

After completing the learning module the learner should be able to:
  1. Identify water, air, and noise pollution that are present in different neighborhoods.
  2. Understand the effect that chemicals and other aspects of our environment have on human health.
Target Student Population:

The animations are appropriate for students in high school or the first 2 years of undergraduate study in college and the concerned public. Students studying environmental sciences or pre-professionals in the health sciences such as nursing, respiratory therapy, and medicine would benefit from using this learning resource.

It is a companion to the extensive information in the TOXNET® collection of databases that are typically used by toxicologists and health professionals.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:

1.      Ability to navigate an Internet site with multiple links and hot spots.

2.      General knowledge of chemical names and high school vocabulary.

3.      Knowledge of common health concerns including hearing and vision problems, infections, and breathing problems.

Type of Material:

Collection: Tox Town is a collection of images with mouse roll-overs, menus, and external links which provide information about environmental hazards that might be present in a neighborhood.

Recommended Uses:

The learning resource could be used as a stand alone resource because it has accompanying descriptions of toxic substances by linking the site to ToxNet. In addition, Tox Town is linked to Medline Plus which provides additional information about health concerns.

This tool is useful for individuals who may have a limited grasp or no understanding of toxicology.
Technical Requirements:

In order to view the images in Tox Town, Flash must be installed (there is a text-only version available). Sounds are provided to increase interest for the user, but not necessary to understanding the content. No other programs are required. Tox Town runs equally well in Firefox and Internet Explorer.


Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths:

1.      Tox Town was developed by the National Library of Medicine and is linked to other reliable and valid sources of information.

2.      The environmental hazards that are depicted in Tox Town are realistic and give a thorough assessment of a typical neighborhood.

3.      Tox Town teaches important concepts to a wide audience in an interesting fashion.

4.      For students who are interested in environmental sciences, Tox Town can provide a sound foundation upon which more advanced study can be built.

Concerns: Many linked materials may prove challenging for young students and individuals without developed scientific vocabularies.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths:

The purpose of Tox Town is to demonstrate the potential sources of environmental hazardous in neighborhoods.

1.      Tox Town facilitates learning by presenting a common neighborhood scene containing hazards that might not be obvious at first to the learner.

2.      By selecting either a location in the neighborhood or a button at the bottom of the image, the user is shown where chemicals or other hazards exist. More information is provided on the right-hand menu. .

Concerns: The cartoon graphics and sounds may belie the intellectually difficult nature of some of the resources to which the site links. Conversely, more advanced users may discount the usefulness of information presented through the site due to the graphical and auditory representations.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.25 stars
Strengths:

1.      The homepage of Tox Town clearly shows that there are five neighborhoods to explore. Once in a neighborhood, all menus function in the same way to provide consistency in navigation.

2.      There were no broken links to external web pages.

3.      The images and sounds used in Tox Town make it an interesting location to learn about toxic substances in the places where we live, work, and play.

Concerns:

1.      There are no instructions on the homepage of Tox Town. Users would need to notice that a mouse-over will take them into neighborhoods.

2.      Tox Town can be overwhelming to a first-time user. There are many different ways to move around the neighborhoods and many external links that provide additional information.