The Worm Classroom is a portal on "the worm" Caenorhabditis elegans. Information posted on the site include basic information about this model organism, the researchers and their areas of research using the worm, as well as instructional materials on various biology disciplines that were developed based on C. elegans research resources.
There are no specific learning goals for the site as a whole. Some of the specific educational materials include learning outcomes and complete protocols for doing the labs.
Target Student Population:
High school, lower level undergraduate, advanced undergraduate.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Basic Animal Physiology
Type of Material:
The site is a listing of educational and research resources related to C. elegant. There are descriptions of how the organism is used in lab at all levels--high school to advanced undergraduate. Syllabi are available along with multimedia materials and suggestions for uses in the lab. Examples of research using the organism are discussed.
This site would be ideal for a program looking to introduce investigative labs into their curriculum using a model animal system with a rich research and educational literature.
Evaluation and Observation
Most materials come from successful educational exercises at a variety of institutions. The procedures have been tested and work.
Some educational materials have detailed protocols for students.
Materials are based on active research results
Informatioin is accurate
Information is complete
There are a lot of links
There is a lot of information provided
Animations are good
Images are good
There does not appear to be an internal process to review quality of materials.
Difficult to determine how often materials are updated
It is not very intuitive
There is a lot of information
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
This is the strength of the site--many descriptions os successful uses from an educational viewpoint
Could be used at any level as demonstration, a segment of lab curriculum, or as an entire semester lab sequence
Brings a model animal system to the classroom
Does not take a great deal of space or resources
There are no learning objectives
There is little organization
Concepts do not build on each other
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Educational resources organized into categories--Instructional Materials; Multimedia Resources; Teaching With C. elegant; Worm Educators; Survey of Curricula (1999)
List of questions that might be investigated is supplied
A glossary of terms is provided
Information on research uses of the organism provided
Easy to use
Pictures and animations explain the material well
The large number of materials would take time to review to determine which are applicable to a particular situation
Full use requires user to join site
Other Issues and Comments:
I can understand how users would have mixed reactions to this site. Some of its strengths are also concerns. It provides a lot of information, but leaves the user to decide what to do with it. There was no clear guidance. I had to just play around with it to figure out its purpose. ... and it took me a few visits. I think this is for a more specific audience than the authors seem to have intended. I think they want it for the general public, but the user really needs to have a fair amount of background in biology.