This is a good site to learn basic information about cancer from physicians and scientists. The materials include: Hallmarks for Cancer, Causes and Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment, and Pathways to Cancer. Each section is accompanied by animations and narrations to present different aspects of cancer.
Type of Material:
This site includes animations and narrations to learn about cancer.
This site is userful for patient education on "What is Cancer?" and as an introduction to cancer for middle school or high school curriculum and to some extent, at the university level.
This site requires use of Adobe Flash Player or equivalent.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
Users will learn about many aspects of cancer including major differences between normal cells and cancer cells in terms of growth, replication, and aging; and three mechanisms that lead to cancer including: mutation due to DNA replication, DNA segregation errors, and gene deletion, and gene insertion/duplication.
Target Student Population:
Information may be used by: the general public as a brief overview for those who want a refresher in biology, middle school/high school biology students, and some minimal use for college/university level, perhaps as a quick refresher in the first year before a cell biology course.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Users will have a better understanding of materials if they have a basic understanding of biology (including the cell cycle) and health-related sciences.
The information is an accurate and complete
Animations are well done and show good detail
Narrations by experts add credibility to material
The topics are well-organized
Varied material presentation, such as audio, visual, and animated materials, appeal to many different learning styles
Overview slide 4: inaccurate/incomplete depiction of mutation process; A to T mutation is left as a T-T bond
Overview slide 6: “rogue” cells: no clear indication that these cancer cells with dysfunctional cell cycles can proliferate uncontrollably; they are just called “rogue”
Becoming Immortal, slide 6: "telomeres fuse and cells die" includes insufficient information; apoptosis was mentioned earlier in the slides, so it may be more appropriate to provide more detail on how cells die in this case
Promoting Mutations, slide 4: mentioning that "during that segregation process, it is often that the numbers of genes get distributed unevenly to those daughter cells;" literature says "a loss or non-disjunction of chromosomes per 104 divisions," which might not necessarily be called often, but a rather well controlled system, with a low incidence rate; only a small proportion of improper segregation events will result in cancer, so this mechanism is poorly portrayed as a main contributor
Promoting Mutation section did not touch on environmental mutagens, which are more common than the error rate of the DNA polymerase which was mentioned (e.g., sun exposure, nucleotide analogues, radiation exposure, etc.)
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Site provides a quick way to refresh users on the basics of cancer
Material may be used for medical education as an overview of cancer for patients and families
Animations are easy to follow
Narrations help users focus on key concepts
Material is engaging and interesting
Information within and between topics flows very well
At the time of this review, learning objectives were not clearly stated
There are a few accuracy concerns for the material that would be evident mostly for university students and those with more background in this area
If this presentation is used for high school students, then a clear lesson on mutations should be done, to include all mechanisms and mutagen sources, and fill the gap
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The information is organized and follows a logical order
Animation flows very easily
Material includes short videos and slides with clear messages that are easy to remember
Narrations and animations played simultaneously without problems
No defective links or major bugs were found
Material requires Flash Player, which may be difficult for those who prefer the iPad/iPhone/iPod and BlackBerry devices
Other Issues and Comments:
Overall a good resource for students who are introduced to cancer for the first time, who have had minimal prior exposure to cell cycle, DNA replication and repair mechanisms.
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