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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Cells Alive!

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 4.75 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Jun 24, 2011 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview: Cells Alive! Is an easy-to-use and highly entertaining website covering basic topic in cell biology, microbiology, immunology and microscopy. Explicitly designed for use in a class room environment, the site provides excellent interactive models and videos, pictorial galleries of cells and polarized crystalline structures, and quizzes to assess retention at the end of each section. The cell biology section provides fantastic depictions of basic animal and plant cell structure and function, the cell cycle, mitosis, meiosis, apoptosis, pumping myocytes and a 24 hour time-lapse presentation of dividing cancer cells. The microbiology section exhibits bacteriophage activity of a T-4 phage, bacterial growth in a 6 hour time-lapse presentation, bacterial motility, the action of penicillin and bacteria’s growing resistance, and the action of disease causing bacteria and parasites of man. The immunology section presents a step-by-step treatment of the bodies reaction to a splinter including chemotaxis, phagocytosis and oxidative burst, the section also provides a thorough overview allergies and antibodies, cytotoxic T-cells and in-depth coverage of HIV infection. The microscopy section provides information on the various microscopic techniques such as darkfield, Rheinberg, polarization, DIC, phase contrast, fluorescent and electronic enhancement. Cells Alive presents the information in an exciting and engaging manner that is sure to get students excited about cell biology!
Learning Goals: Learning goals include comprehension of basic cell biology including cell structure and function, mitosis, meiosis, and apoptosis. Users will also gain a solid comprehension of basic concepts in microbiology including bacterial growth and motility, virus activity and parasitology. In addition, users will gain an appreciation of basic immunological function including antibody production, tumor suppression and HIV infection.
Target Student Population: High school and undergraduate students, as well as graduate students, can benefit from this site. Users may acquire different levels of appreciation and knowledge depending on the audience; entry level biology courses will find the model cells and cell cycle integral to the learning process while more advanced classes such as microbiology and immunology will benefit from having difficult concepts exhibited in an innovative and novel medium.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: It is not necessary to have prequisite knowledge of cell biology, microbiology or immunology to benefit from the information presented in this website.
Type of Material: Animations and simulations at this site can be used in the classroom setting whereas many of these materials and others provided can be used individually for interactive learning.
Recommended Uses: Many of the learning objects can be use in the classroom, although these same materials and others at this site can be used individually for interactive learning.
Technical Requirements: Much of the material can be navigated with HTML, although Adobe Flash Player is required to use many of the learning objects.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths:
  • The content is well organized and follows good pedagogy for learning cell biology
  • Material is complete for understanding basic cell structure and function
  • The learning objects are interactive and engaging
  • The site provides accurate diagrams and labeling of key concepts
  • Animations and simulations are accurate and straightforward
  • Quality of graphics is good and provides enough detail for this level of understanding
Concerns:
  • Mitosis and meiosis are not demonstrated for a plant cell; the site would benefit from the addition for comparison and contrast with the animal cell cycle
  • A model of a prokaryotic cell is not provided, the site would benefit from inclusion of a prokaryotic cell for comparison and contrast with the eukaryotic cell

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths:
  • This is a perfect starting point for learning about cell structure and function
  • The material is interactive and hence, keeps users actively involved with the learning experience
  • Promotes conceptual understanding of cell biology
  • Material is presented in such a way that users can understand the unity and diversity of animal and plant cells
  • Assignments in the form of puzzles and quizzes are provided by this site
  • Material is presented in an engaging and interesting fashion
Concerns:
  • Objectives are not clearly stated
  • A table or page comparing and contrasting prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells would enhance students understanding of the material

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths:
  • The information is well-organized and flows easily from one topic to another
  • Adobe Flash Animations load quickly and run smoothly
  • Good interactivity is promoted through use of a mouse
  • No defects were detected in the way the animation is presented
  • Information is easy to understand
Concerns:
  • Some axillary videos are not embedded within the page requiring a second window to view them

Other Issues and Comments: This is great site to learn about cell biology.