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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


360 Degrees - Stories

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 4.75 stars
Effectiveness: 4.75 stars
Ease of Use: 4.5 stars
Reviewed: Feb 04, 2011 by Criminal Justice Editorial Board
Overview: This site contains links to audio recordings of stories of the experiences of prisoners, parents of the offenders, victims of the offenders, prison administrators, and correctional officers. The stories highlight current issues in corrections today, including: overcrowding and the push to build more prisons, girls and women in prison and pregnancy, harsh drug sentencing, capital punishment, and deinstitutionalization of youth offenders. Stories are accompanied with a 360¢ª view of their space and still photos. In addition, information is provided about the facilities where they are housed. Additional links in the Dynamic Data section provide the ability to take a quiz on your own criminal behavior, view current prison statistics, learn about the theories used to explain crime, and disenfranchisement. In the Timeline section, dynamic data is provided to explain the changes in prevailing views on corrections. The Resources section provides ideas for assignments that could be used in conjunction with the site, a list to additional readings, and videos about corrections.
Learning Goals: The student will learn how the U.S. correctional system affects many different people from different backgrounds and circumstances. Students will understand the history and explanations for the current state of corrections in America today.
Target Student Population: Undergraduate gen ed students in general, criminal justice students specifically
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: None.
Type of Material: Case Study
Recommended Uses: Individual or in-class assignments
Technical Requirements: Flash. I tried Google Chrome but had some problems. According to the author of the website, it works better in Internet Explorer, so I switched to that. Also, you must install Quicktime player to be able to hear the stories and see the moving pictures.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: The site is rich with information about the controversies surrounding corrections today. It provides students with an easily understood timeline of changes in correctional philosophies. It provides students with a very personal understanding of the real stories of people affected by current policies. Hearing the stories in the actual voices of the involved individuals while also seeing where they experience life is compelling.
Concerns: The information is accurate and relevant. I just would have liked to have seen a bit more documentation and expert opinions/testimony on the issues. However, that isn't really what this site is about. The module needs context in a learning situation, although it is entertaining either way. I was unclear what a student is supposed to learn from the module, even though I know that it will make an impact on anyone who watches it.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: The authors of the site do a wonderful job of showing how students of every discipline could learn from this site. Also, criminal justice students could learn so much from this site because it makes the issues so real and personal.
Concerns: While this module is entertaining and would supplement a lecture nicely, I do not see how it is grounded in any criminological concepts or identifies any learning objectives. More description/explanation on the website may have helped.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: The site is extremely visually appealing and easy to use. Also, a link is provided for the plug in that is required to view the 360 degree video. The viewer can move around to the stories that interest him/her most, and seeing the personal spaces while hearing the stories in the actual voices of the affected individuals is very compelling.
Concerns: I had quite a few problems getting started, in terms of switching to Internet Explorer and installing QuickTime. Once in the module, there were very few instructions as to how best to navigate through, and it was unclear to me initially that there were multiple case studies, each told from different perspectives. A description and thorough instructions at the beginning would have been very helpful. Finally, the video portion seemed to “lock up” if I needed to adjust the volume.

Other Issues and Comments: The module has the feel of an interactive “Frontline” episode, which makes it very engaging. It would have benefitted from more description and instructions for use.