This website contains a wealth of materials, from history to recent advances, relating to the use of ultrasonography in pregnancy. The author, Dr. Joseph Woo, developed this web site in 1995 because he felt there was a need for accurate information about ultrasonography among the general public.
Type of Material:
This website is a presentation consisting of a collection of articles and images related to ultrasonography as well as referrals to a number of other websites on, or closely related to, the topic.
In an academic setting, this website could be used by instructors to increase or refresh their knowledge of prenatal development and diagnostic techniques. Students of biology, physiological psychology, child development, or nursing could use the website for the same purposes; they also could be sent to the site to answer questions for an out-of-class assignment or use the site as a paper reference.
A few of the images in the photo gallery are Quicktime movies. There also are some audio files (for which one would need speakers and the Quicktime software to play them).
Identify Major Learning Goals:
After reading through this web site, one should have a better understanding of what obstetric ultrasounds are; why and when they are used in pregnancy; what transvaginal scans, doppler ultrasound, and 3-D ultrasounds are; how often ultrasounds should be scheduled; and safety issues in ultrasonography.
Target Student Population:
According to Dr. Woo, pages on this website are intended primarily for the reading of fathers- and mothers-to-be. However, he believes that students, medical practitioners and other healthcare workers may also find the information useful. The pages are probably most appropriate for students in the areas of biology,
physiological psychology, child development, and nursing. It should be noted, however, that the emphasis is on the technical elements of the ultrasound.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
No prerequisite knowledge or skills are needed.
Evaluation and Observation
Dr. Woo is an expert in the field of ultrasonography and the information provided on this website is of top quality. Some of the material Dr. Woo wrote himself; in other cases, he provides links to many excellent articles and websites on the Internet. It has been ranked as a top website by both Lycos and Google. In addition, it has been rated as a best site by the National Science Teachers Association and has received an outstanding achievement award by OBGYN.net.
There is no indication of when the site was last updated; there are a substantial number of links to external websites that are no longer viable. The site is technical in focus, which may not be what the visitor is looking for.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
There are a number of aspects of this site that would make it an effective teaching tool. There is a wealth of information including the history of ultrasonography, news articles on ultrasound examination in pregnancy, and answers to common questions about ultrasonography (including a special FAQ page on the gender of the fetus). Of particular interest to developmental psychologists is the catalog of web pages describing particular abnormalities diagnosable by ultrasound and by a news article on the correction of spina bifida in the womb. Both within and outside of the site, there are some great ultrasonographic pictures of fetuses. The photo gallery also contains some quick time movies of fetuses. It is possible as well to hear fetal heart sounds recorded on a doppler device.
The number of non-working links is a major concern. Additionally, Dr. Woo intentionally wrote materials on the site in medical terms instead of layman terms in order to raise standards of health education. This amount of medical terminology may prevent some undergraduate students from making full use of the site.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The site is well-organized and well-written with links to explanatory material from the main page. As it consists of only text and images, there isn't really anything that could be difficult to use. There is also a search tool on the main page so that information can be found quickly and easily.
The medical terminology may be difficult for some undergraduate students to wade through. PDF files may also be problematic at times.