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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Simulations

by Charles Xie
 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.5 stars
Content Quality: 4.75 stars
Effectiveness: 4.75 stars
Ease of Use: 4.25 starsstar
Reviewed: Apr 20, 2014 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview: This website by the nonprofit educational research and development organization, Concord Consortium, allowed for simulations such as cellular respiration, genetics, meiosis, diffusion, selection pressures, photosynthesis, protein synthesis, and a variety of other biological processes and topics.
Learning Goals: None given, and these would vary by activity or interactive. The mission of the Concord Consortium is "To ignite large-scale improvements in teaching and learning through technology."
Target Student Population: The target student population includes high school and undergraduate students.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: None. These modules appropriate for lower division introductory college courses, with no prerequisites.
Type of Material: Website with interactive downloadable apps to demonstrate various topics in science.
Recommended Uses: These modules and interactives could be used by students individual, in online classes or as assignments. Instructors might be able to use them in class as well.
Technical Requirements: Web browser. The interactives seem to rely on Java Runtime version 5. There are some HTML5 modules as well.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths:
  • Interactivity--most of these modules have significant active learner engagement
  • The topics presented for biology include some of the notoriously difficult topics (DNA to protein, respiration)
  • The information seems generally accurate
  • Simulations are concise and easy to comprehend as well as having great graphics
Concerns:
  • The graphics are unrealistic to the actual model but this allows for students to have a better understanding of a simplified process
  • The unit on osmosis is incorrect about how osmosis works

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths:
  • The interactive activities are engaging and should prove highly effective for students
  • The ability to set up small experiments using the interactive functions is a great feature
  • The quizzes in the units are very effective at reinforcing the material
  • The text descriptions of the topics are useful as well
  • This is a unique way of learning
Concerns:
  • The use of the interactives may require some computer skills that are beyond some students
  • Some of the introductory is quite long and not very engaging

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.25 stars
Strengths:
  • The units are downloadable and some are apparently being developed for use on the internet using HTML
  • The site is well organized
  • Instructors can sort the activities and interactives by discipline, by educational level and by resource type--a very nice feature
  • The units are downloadable and allow portability
  • Instructors have a large range of activities and interactive simulations by discipline
  • There is a note about some known Java issues, especially with Mac mavericks
Concerns:
  • The downloadable interactives require Java Runtime, which frequently causes problems for students; there is a instructional note about some known Java issues
  • The download feature may buffer slowly
  • registration is required for some features

Other Issues and Comments: There were no other issues.