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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


crash course

by Hank Green
 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 4.75 stars
Effectiveness: 4.75 stars
Ease of Use: 4.5 stars
Reviewed: Feb 11, 2013 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview: This is a collection of video podcast in several disciplines, one of which is in Ecology (12 episodes) and another Biology (40 episodes). The "instructor" is a fast-talking entertainer and video blogger (he has academic training in Biochemistry and Environmental Studies) who tries to explain complex biological concepts in simpler terms that is easy to understand and appeals to children and young adults.
Learning Goals: None stated, but the series of podcasts is an entertainment in itself and this could appeal to audiences who enjoy fast-talking, geeky-looking lecturers. The complex materials are broken down into simpler terminologies delivered with the vocabulary that is more colloquial than academic, but the scientific jargon and technical terms are used and remain intact, making this resource attractive especially to auditory learners.
Target Student Population: Elementary school to lower undergraduate division; teachers who are looking for materials on teaching strategies
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Nothing really, these are very basic in content.
Type of Material: Video podcast collection
Recommended Uses: Can be used as supplements to lectures and lab classes, as assignments in flipped classrooms.
Technical Requirements: Web browser.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: The entertainment nature of the podcast and the fact that the podcaster is actually using correct scientific terminology while making constant references to contemporary pop culture is a big plus especially for middle school and high school students. Thorough and engaging for students. Typical length is 10-15 minutes, so enough time to cover a topic in detail. Quality images.
Concerns: The fast-talking entertainer could pause every once in a while to allow the audience to digest the slew of information that was just delivered. Spoke fast in places, and images jumped around. Could be distracting to some students.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: The pop culture references and the "entertainer persona" projected by the "instructor" in addition to the invitation to join social media connections (Facebook, twitter, etc.) is a strong pull for students to get engaged in the topic. Would be useful for students to review topics out of class. Could raise questions that could be discussed in class. Could develop questions to accompany the mini lectures.
Concerns: No assessment tools are provided, either online or in text format.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: The delivery of information is brisk and lively tempered with enough sarcasm and for those students who actually prefer this type of instructional delivery, they will probably do well listening to this podcast instead of reading their textbook. Easy to use, point a click videos.
Concerns: Does require a subscription, which limits access.

Other Issues and Comments: The dynamic presenter will surely wake up students especially those who are sitting through a Biology class at 8 in the morning.