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Peer Review

The Visible Embryo



Overall Numeric Rating:

3.33 stars
Content Quality: 3 stars
Effectiveness: 2 stars
Ease of Use: 4 stars
Reviewed: Mar 04, 2002 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview: The Visible Embryo is a website that provides a brief account of human development. Although the site is visually appealing and technically excellent, the content is limited. The content consists of a textual description of the various stages of embryonic development through all forty weeks of human fetal development, plus accompanying photographs or drawings of the embryo for the first trimester. The site includes a very useful glossary, a few links to other sites dealing with embryonic development, a chat room, an interactive whiteboard, a simple children's game (which requires a Shockwave plugin), and a link to a commercial version of the site.
Type of Material: Collection
Technical Requirements: HTML, Shockwave plugin for games
Identify Major Learning Goals: Identify key events during human fetal development
Target Student Population: HS, non-science lower division college students

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 3 stars

Quality of Content Ratings: (3)(3) = 3

  • Technically excellent with accurate material and a good glossary

  • Descriptions are clear and concise

  • Use of ruler and "actual size" picture to provide a sense of scale for the images

  • There is relatively little content with only a brief description of various stages of development, with a diagram or photograph for the earlier stages.

  • Features of embryos are not labeled

  • There are no animations or serial pictures so that cell movements can be observed

  • There are no photographs or diagrams of sections to show internal events or structures

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 2 stars
  • Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching-Learning Tool Ratings: (1)(2) = 1.5

    • Site is attractive and images and descriptions are clear and well displayed

    • Includes links to topical items, has some interactive games

    • There is no overall summary of events, or any "big picture" type material

    • There are no questions, quizzes, assignments or any other overt educational material

    • Concepts addressed in the games are different than those covered by the rest of the site

    • Intended audience is not clear. While the description of the stages of development and glossary are written at a college level, the game would only interest students at a grade school level.

    • While the web site design is glitzy and complex, the content is limited to about two dozen images and a sketchy description of the stages and a glossary.

    Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

    Rating: 4 stars

    Ease of Use Ratings:(3.5)(4) = 3.75

    • Easy to use since it is largely static web pages and the material that is there is well written and organized.

    • Has a nice spiral image map or development that is easy to understand and gives simple access to any of the pages on the site

    • There are a number of broken links on the site. It is not clear if the site is still being maintained.

    • It is necessary to download and install Shockwave (if you don't already have it installed) in order to play the game.

    • Glossary definitions are not linked to the words in the descriptions, you have to go to the glossary and look them up.

    • Only one of the games (implantation) was available

    • It is not clear how the whiteboard tool is to be used