May 23, 2012 by Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Editorial Board
The site contains information on the research, teaching, and outreach efforts of the laboratory of Jamie Foster, an Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Cell Science at the University of Florida. Of main interest to this review are three podcasts on microbial diversity and DNA sequencing. The podcasts are in the 20 to 40 minute range and are meant to be chained together as part of a larger unit. The quality is very good, particularly the audio, and the content is up to date and accessible for students with basic science backgrounds.
Each of the three podcasts has a learning objective stated on the web site; basically, understanding diversity, DNA sequencing, and then a tutorial on software use associated with DNA sequencing.
Target Student Population:
Advanced high school students or college students who have taken basic biology an chemistry.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Freshman level biology and chemistry
Type of Material:
Presentation or tutorial
For introductory college-level or advanced high school science courses. The podcasts can be used as background for interactive exercises in class in a "flipped" model.
The podcasts are produced on a Mac but play on a PC using the Vimeo player.
Evaluation and Observation
- excellent vocal quality and narration in podcasts I and II
- up to date content; explained in an accessible way for students being exposed to the topic for the first time
- nice job using a "thought experiment" to frame podcast II
- slightly lesser audio quality in podcast III
- no embedded assessments; would be good to pose questions and allow the student to pause the podcast and ponder answers
- podcasts I and II could have benefited from the use of a pointer on some of the slides to draw the viewer's attention to specific features
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
- concise yet thorough introduction to a complex topic
- might consider "content chunking" into smaller bites of 5-10 minutes each, each of which might be followed with a review or self assessment
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
- very easy to navigate the podcast and the site in general; no issues
Other Issues and Comments:
Comments from Author:
Thank you for reviewing the microbial diversity learning modules. I appreciate the comments will try to incorporate the suggestions into future versions of the module. I would be very happy to have the reviews posted on the site.