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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Systematic Mycology and Microbiology Laboratory

by Amy Y. Rossman
 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.5 stars
Content Quality: 4 stars
Effectiveness: 4.5 stars
Ease of Use: 4.75 stars
Reviewed: Mar 30, 2013 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview: This resource is the website for the Systematic Mycology and Microbiology Laboratory. The site includes information on the systematics of fungi from technical keys to news and events (mostly in the Washington D.C. area).
Learning Goals: None are stated, but the mission of the Systematic Mycology and Microbiology Laboratory, for which this site is the home page, is to "increase the knowledge and application of the systematics of fungi essential to solving problems in sustainable and conventional agriculture."
Target Student Population: Mostly graduate students or upper division students with a strong background in mycology or plant pathology.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: A knowledge of fungi and microscopy, to use the keys. Taxonomic literacy to use the databases.
Type of Material: The main webpage provides links to a variety of learning materials: from videos, to animations, to podcasts, and on to interactive dichotomous keys for classifying specimens. The content and presentation of the material varies greatly to reach all different levels of education.
Recommended Uses: Because the content is so varied, this website could be used in countless ways. Upper level science students at the college level will find the information beneficial for research and career exploration purposes; lower level college science students will find the information relates microbiology and science to everyday life; high school level science students and even elementary students will find activities that will help them implement the scientific method.
Technical Requirements: Adobe Flash in some cases is required to view some areas on the site.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths:
  • Some material included here would be hard to find elsewhere
  • Keys are high quality and interactive
  • News and events would be useful to people in the D.C. area
  • Articles might be of general interest to people interested in mycology or systematics
  • Literature database and nomenclature fact sheets are very high quality
  • The information on the webpage is accurate, visually appealing and the content is varied to reach all levels and backgrounds of readers; it provides valuable resources not only for college-level students, but K-12 students and faculty alike
  • All images and videos are good quality and the numerous links are all maintained and functional
Concerns:
  • Only a few taxa are included, so the value is limited for most people
  • Database of fungi is not user friendly for non-taxonomists
  • There is not a lot of material on this site
  • Key article on the value of sytematics is dated and does not reflect recent advances in systematics
  • Some of the text in areas is a bit small; there are no ADA compliant videos

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths:
  • The content on this webpage will significantly increase the knowledge of the user in an engaging, interactive, and fun manner-- for all levels of education. The designers have kept in mind the importance to link the topics for K-career learning, which is very important today
  • Keys could be useful as examples of online interactive keys
  • Mycology students or practicing mycologists might find the keys and the databases useful
  • General articles could be useful in mycology or systematics classes.
  • Instructors could design assignments using keys or databases
Concerns:
  • Database of nomenclature has useful search features, but requires understanding of taxonomic concepts to use
  • Keys and database use a lot of technical jargon
  • For some, the content may be too rich-- too many choices on the webpage may confuse some users

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths:
  • Database and keys are easily searchable in a variety of ways
  • Site is well organized and all links work as intended
  • The webpage is very easy to navigate with the click of a button.
  • All material loaded very easily and was accessible
Concerns:
  • Some of the material information is highly technical and presented in a format that only mycologists would find accessible
  • For some users, there may be too many links and too much information-- it is possible to drill down too far in tabs and get lost

Other Issues and Comments: This is an excellent site for mycologists, instructors teaching mycological systematics. The databases on species of quarantine significance, nomenclatural fact sheets (which review the history of taxa), and the interactive keys are all wonderful. This resource is very specialized but for the appropriate users would be of high value.