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Peer Review

McGill Physiology Virtual Lab



Overall Numeric Rating:

4 stars
Content Quality: 4 stars
Effectiveness: 4 stars
Ease of Use: 4 stars
Reviewed: Oct 14, 2005 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview: The site offers an online human physiology lab guide, providing detailed
background (including demonstrations, illustrations, and animations) on the
material to be covered in lab. There is an in-depth review of a Physiology lab.
Principles of the lab as well as actual exercises are discussed and
demonstrated. The site contains labs covering the nervous, muscular,
cardiovascular, respiratory, immune, blood, and endocrine systems as well as
demonstrating the interaction of various physiological systems during exercise.
Type of Material: Tutorial.
Recommended Uses: Very supportive for student comprehension of physiology labs, if reviewed prior
to students actually doing the lab exercises in class.
Technical Requirements: Must have Adobe Acrobat reader. Must have some type of media viewer (e.g.
Microsoft Media Player) for the Mpeg files.
Identify Major Learning Goals: To offer tutorial lab support for McGill University course: Introductory
Physiology Laboratory PHGY 212D1 & 2.

Provides learning review and support for examining the physiological systems of
the blood, immune, nervous, endocrine, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems.
Target Student Population: Undergraduate students enrolled in an introductory physiology course,
pre-medical courses, or more advanced biology courses.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: The site assumes quite a bit of prior knowledge about the topics covered.
Students need to be familiar with basic biological concepts and terminology.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4 stars

  • Very good material and very supportive for pre-lab review. Videos of
    select activities were very useful.
  • Students will find the site very useful for reviewing material before
  • There are informative videos, animations, diagrams, and some interactive

    exercises. Links are also provided to external sites with movie clips and other
  • Instructors at other institutions might find the site useful for
    student review.

  • Very good for McGill course. Other instructors in other Anatomy &
    Physiology labs would find some of the exercises very useful for their own
    courses OR as a pre-lab or post-lab review of various physiological principles.
  • Content includes diagrams, animations, and small movie clips. Provides
    links to other instructional web sites.
  • The text is sometimes very dense. Additional formatting might be
  • Although the other material in the Blood lab is very good, the image
    quality of the videos is poor. Only very limited self-testing is available to
    students outside the McGill physiology class (requires a WebCT login).

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4 stars

  • Good for review and tutorial.
  • The learning objectives were limited as this site focused on established

  • The site will be very effective for students enrolled in the McGill
  • Instructors at other institutions will find useful review material to
    assign to their students or provide as additional material. The Blood lab, for
    example, is outstanding, with an interactive animation that allows the student
    to simulate looking at white blood cells through a microscope.
  • This material would most likely be appropriate for any introductory
    physiology course.

  • Instructors must review the content to see if it will fit strongly or
    broadly to their own learning objectives.
  • Because the site is built around a particular course at McGill
    University, instructors at other institutions will have to do quite a bit of
    work to determine how the material will fit into their own course.
  • It would be helpful to have the self-testing capability in the Virtual
    Lab rather than limited to the WebCT site.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4 stars

  • Animations of hemolysis and crenation very good.
  • Animation of electrocardiogram very helpful.
  • The instructions are generally concise, well written, and easy to

  • Useful for student review of lab principles.
  • Navigation is awkward. Each page has a navigation bar at the top left
    that displays additional choices when moused over. It's easy to lose one's
    place in the lab. Some pages offer a "click here to continue" at the bottom of
    the page. However, some of these links don't work, as in A/D basics. Requires
    reading to the bottom of the page and then scrolling back up to the navigation
    bar. The "continue on" links also sometimes go back to a previously read page.
  • During some of the animations in Exercise Physiology, students must read
    the text that pops up at the same time that they are watching the movement of a

    signal to its target organ. Not all of the text fits on the screen, requiring
    the student to scroll down to read the text while the animation is playing. As
    such, it's very hard to get a sense of continuity from the animation.
  • "Gain Settings" page of Biological Signals Acquisition is gone.
  • The interactive ECG exercise of the Cardiovascular lab is a great idea,
    but after reading the directions and giving it several tries I am unable to get
    the applet to work (even though I click and drag, the arrow doesn't leave the
    "Start Here" box, so the shape of the ECG can't be traced).

Other Issues and Comments:

  • This site would be very helpful for general student review of
    physiological principles; but for some students, the depth of this material
    progresses into a more in-depth level biology or physiology course work.