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Peer Review

HyperPhysics Light and Vision

by Rod Nave


Overall Numeric Rating:

4 stars
Content Quality: 4.5 stars
Effectiveness: 4 stars
Ease of Use: 4 stars
Reviewed: May 31, 2005 by Physics
Overview: Hyperphysics Light and Vision is a collection of topic modules covering the field of optics and visual perception. It is a subset of the full Hyperphysics site that includes 10 modules covering major subdivisions of physics. Modules include extensive hyperlinks to facilitate navigation between topics; and hyperlinked graphical concept maps are used to show the overall relationships between topics. Interactive examples created with Javascript are extensively employed.
Type of Material: Reference material
Recommended Uses: On-line reference and textbook supplement.
Technical Requirements: Browser must support Javascript.
Identify Major Learning Goals: The site is encyclopedic in nature, providing explanations and references.
Target Student Population: High school and undergraduate.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Students should have knowledge of algebra and trigonometry. Calculus is used in the discussion of some topics.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: It is difficult to imagine a more comprehensive collection of interlinked items for covering Optics and Vision. The tree structure in which the topics are arranged, the details with which the branch topics have been dealt with, and the high degree of detail that is available by clicking on virtually every technical term, makes this site a unique resource.

There is extensive coverage of topics at both introductory and more advanced levels. This includes discussions of both thin and thick lenses, lens aberrations, and applications in optical instruments. In addition, there is a fair amount of material on the perception of color and systems for quantifying color measurement. Finally, there is some material on the visual mechanisms in the eye as well as vision defects and methods of correction.

Concerns: A couple of topics are somewhat unclear. These are:

  1. Discussion on hue is not clear in spite of a definition being included when hue is introduced.
  2. It is difficult to follow the exposition of halo phenomena using the
    diagrams provided.

There are other topics that need some expansion - e.g., the part on optical
instruments. There is little in this section other than some diagrams and definitions of a few key words. Also, in the discussion of vision defects,there is no discussion of the causes, and the explanation of the methods for correcting them is somewhat brief.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: The ability to explore topics through hyperlinks is this site is its greatest asset. Students can easily navigate to those topics where they need additional help while skipping things they have already mastered. Links to this resource can provide students tips and hints in online readings and homework.

The Javascript "calculators" can be helpful to students who are having problems with the algebra. The formulae are clearly stated in most places and the summaries on topics are well done in most cases.

This site will be a useful resource for Science Literacy projects world
wide, where there is a desperate need for freeware like this.

Concerns: The lack of details in some modules curtails their usefulness.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: The layout of this site is very well thought out, and an important strength of this resource. The use of maps and connections to link students to topics is a powerful approach to helping them learn.
Concerns: Some of the Javascript calculators have a very condensed discussion of the method by which the answers are obtained. For example, the compound microscope simply states the formulas used to find the magnification for the objective and eyepiece, with no explanation of how they are obtained. The "Examine approximations" link provides only a short written explanation. Some additional diagrams would help, particularly for non-verbal learners.

Other Issues and Comments: