Reviewed by members of Editorial board for inclusion in MERLOT.Editor ReviewVery good quality; in queue to be peer reviewedavg:
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Discussion for Animal Adaptations
Anna Cajiga (Teacher (K-12))
The basis of this instructional resource is strong. It presents very high quality information to learners and is grounded in effective Instructional Design principles. The resource starts by explicitly stating the learning standards, which prepares students for what they are expected to learn. Most apparent to me was that the resource explains ideas and concepts in a way that connects to students lives - for example, helping learners remember that a structural adaptation has to do with how something is built by reminding them that a house or building is often called a structure.
The resource provides many real-world examples of various types of adaptations. Examples are accompanied by quality images, which helps viewers visualize important concepts. As students learn, they are given opportunities to show what they know by answering several review questions. Learners are given instant feedback on their performance, which supports learning. Issues of product design are taken into consideration, as graphics and slide backgrounds are appealing to users.
The resource is heavily text-based, which is to be expected in material intended for upper elementary students. To make the resource more accessible to a wide variety of learners who may have special needs or different learning styles, more audio components could be included in this resource. (For example, including a button that would read the slide aloud to students.) This would allow the resource to better align with Universal Design for Learning.
My biggest struggles in using this resource were technical aspects. The buttons that learners use to progress through the learning resource need to be clicked in just the right way in order to function properly. This may present a challenge to students who are using the resource independently.
I experienced difficulties with the buttons that are used to progress through this instructional resource. In order to make the buttons work, users must move their mouse around the button or text until the mouse arrow turns into a hand. Once this happens, you have found the correct place to click to progress to the next slide.
Similarly, some of the slides on the structural vs. behavioral quiz portion of the presentation seemed faulty. When the question appears, the text, "Good Job! Let's try again," is already visible. The only place for users to click is on the arrow to progress to the next slide, so learners never have an opportunity to answer these questions.
Justine Koszela (Teacher (K-12))
This presentation is about differences between behavioral and structural animal adaptations. It provides students with many great pictures and visuals of various animals which students are then required to determine whether the picture is showing a behavioral or structural adaptation. I loved how colorful and detailed the pictures were. I did have a few difficulties with the buttons, because they were not working and allowing me to progress along. This made it difficult to focus on the content because I was constantly clicking out of the slide show and back into PowerPoint in order to move on. This would be extremely difficult for elementary students to maneuver through. As far as the UDL principals, many of them were addressed, visuals, engagement, various information and applying learning. I felt that more creativeness in allowing students to display their findings in other ways would definitely increase and boost the engagement of students. Also providing additional visuals through videos (YouTube) or auditory toward the subject would “get” those kids that can not just read and follow along. However, I really did like how the last slide of the presentation allows students to create their own adaptation. Maybe providing the students with additional support of their assignment on that last slide might help those at-risk students.
This presentation does include visuals and some auditory strategies when students click on answers. Videos or podcasts could also be included in order to really address all pedagogies and UDL Principals, which would increase the effectiveness.