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Peer Review

BIODIDAC: A bank of digital resources



Overall Numeric Rating:

3.7 stars
Content Quality: 4 stars
Effectiveness: 3 stars
Ease of Use: 4 stars
Reviewed: Jan 16, 2003 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview: Biodidac provides a collection of digital resources for teaching biology. The site is a database with almost 6,000 diagrams, photos, videos and animations. The majority (over 5,000) of the entries are diagrams or photos of animals, with about 300 plants, 300 protozoa but only a very few fungi or bacteria. There are also about 300 photos of histology slides. Most of the photos and diagrams are unannotated, although there are about 600 annotated diagrams and photos. There are also some Powerpoint lectures on biostatistics and zoology. Much of the text is in French. The database can be searched by keywords, type (diagram, photo, etc.), taxon, submitter and date. The database can also be browsed by phylum or by type and most entries have a thumbnail image and a short English description.
Type of Material: An image database that includes line drawings, photographs, photomicrographs, video clips.
Recommended Uses: This material is intended for instructors rather than students. Instructors can select material that is relevant to their courses. However, since the material is not labelled or described the user must have a sufficient understanding of biology to interpret the images.
Technical Requirements: AVI compatible player for videos, Shockwave or CorelDraw to view most annotated images
Identify Major Learning Goals: The material on this site is intended primarily for the use of instructors in presenting material to students. It could be used either in a classroom setting or to provide printed material for students.
Target Student Population: Biology students from high school through university.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: A good understanding of biology is necessary to use the site since the most of the images are not described or labelled.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4 stars

  • A very large number of excellent diagrams and photos of animals from a wide range of phyla
  • Images have been scanned in at high resolution
  • Photos are good quality
  • Search tools make finding materials relatively easy

  • Coverage of non-animal phyla is very weak
  • Most images are not annotated or described beyond the title for the image
  • Labels and textual descriptions would improve the usefulness of the site greatly.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 3 stars

  • Wide diversity of animal pictures allows many views of particular groups
    and comparative studies between groups
  • Annotated images can be used to learn structures

  • Too many of the images are not annotated, making them useful only to an
  • The material consists largely of static images. It is then the responsibility of the individual instructor to incorporate this material into classroom presentations or printed material.
  • No learning objectives are stated since these will vary with the instructional use to which the material is put.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4 stars

  • This is intended as a resource for instructors rather than for students
  • Search engine is fast and flexible and makes finding and downloading material easy
  • Number of thumbnails per page is adjustable

  • Some entries are missing descriptions, making it hard to know what they
  • Most of the videos do not have a description or information about the file
  • Labelled images are in either the CorelDraw format (80%) or the PowerPoint
    format, which are not formats easily viewable by most students. CorelDraw
    images are also viewable with the Shockwave plugin.

Other Issues and Comments:

Overall rating: 3.7

Comments from Author: In general, I find your comments on target. The two url listed as defective
are working, so it must have been a transient problem (maybe related to
server software upgrade in the last week). Labelled images are not in a
bitmap format (gif or jpeg) because we found such a format much less
desirable to teach with: text can't easily be edited or deleted. There is
method to our madness and maybe this aspect is worth mentionning in your
review. As disk space is now a cheap commodity (it was not when we first
started...), I can see having bitmap versions of the labeled images in
addition to the vector images eventually.

Antoine Morin
Biologie, Universite d'Ottawa