North Blackland Prairie consists of about 1100 acres of protected lands in north central Texas. This web site is designed to enable users to identify weeds that might be found in this specific conservancy area. Identification is by looking at color photos.This particular site includes common names, scientific names, pictures, and descriptions of about 50 common weeds of Texas. There is an additional link called Plant Anatomy & Glossary, which is part of Texas A&Ms Botany 201 course - a pretty comprehensive site that provides all sorts of pictures and descriptions for identifying plants. These sites complement each other in understanding plant morphology. Both sites provide good reference material for the general public and students in the region wanting to identify weeds.
Type of Material:
This site could be used in many ways. 1. As the basis of a classroom lecture presentation. 2. As an assignment for field collections. 3. As a study tool for students after topic is presented in class.
Pictures and text are in HTML/text format and require no extra plug-ins or additional software other than an Internet browser.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
Identification of weeds is the main purpose of this site. This site was not written as a teaching tool. However, it could be used as part of a botany or ecology course, especially lab or field work.
Target Student Population:
The general public, as well as users in lower and upper division college courses will benefit from the material.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
No prerequisites are necessary, although some background in botany or weed science may be helpful.
Evaluation and Observation
Good representations of images for Texas are provided
The images are easy to find and show good representations of the species
Species names and descriptions are accurate
Additional links are provided to better understand how weeds are identified
Number of images (about 50) is fairly limited
Images are initially thumb size; enlarging them does not always reveal a clear image of the specimen
Descriptions are rather brief
Main site ought to include a link to species that are not listed
No indication of the completeness of this list of species
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Material presented is simple and straightforward
It is possible to make assignments that go along with this site
Information can build knowledge
The additional links provide important accessory information
Pictures and text could be styled in a more engaging / interactive manner
Site is not a key; searching for an identification is trial and error
Learning objectives are not clearly stated
This is mostly a companion site that might need additional information for use in the classroom
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Site is fairly well presented for the region
The information is easy to navigate
Using color images makes material easily accessible
No major bugs in use of software or plug-ins were found
The list of species ought to be listed alphabetically (or some explanation of the order in which they are presented be provided)
At the time of this review, some links (such as Blackland Prairie and Texas A&M Experiment Station) did not go to the right address
It might be useful provide a menu bar or other navigation items so that other species (not listed) can be more easily studied
Other Issues and Comments:
This is a good site for regional weeds in Texas and it makes sense that it is presented as such, as an accessory for a weed science course. It would be helpful to know what other areas are similar. A summary of what is provided in the plant anatomy links would also improve the site. The site might benefit from navigation bars at the top or the side that guide users to other sites for weed identification (that are not listed in the main site). The information is easily accessible by the general public and is presented in visual form.