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Peer Review

iCase Influenza Outbreak

by William James , Damion Young , iCASE Influenza Outbreak Webmaster


Overall Numeric Rating:

4 stars
Content Quality: 3.75 stars
Effectiveness: 3.5 stars
Ease of Use: 3.75 stars
Reviewed: Jan 10, 2013 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview: This is a well-developed activity that integrates information on basic influenza virology with epidemiology. The case study provides detailed laboratory protocols and reinforces safety in a diagnostic laboratory setting. It also shows how the assay plays a fundamental role in diagnostics and what antibodies and antigens are.
Type of Material: This site is a detailed case study. Detailed lecture-style information on influenza virus is presented, along with substantial laboratory safety and technique protocols to be used in the simulation exercise.
Recommended Uses: This activity would be useful in an upper level microbiology course or a clinical microbiology course, as a means of integrating concepts of virology, epidemiology, diagnostics and lab safety.
Technical Requirements: There are no technical requirements for this website.
Identify Major Learning Goals: This activity aims to provide students with a working knowledge of influenza and its causative agent. The investigation portion of the activity serves to test the students' working ability to safely perform immunologic assays and to evaluate patient data in diagnosing an outbreak. The exercise helps students understand what kinds of test are required to analyze an unknown sample as well as the monetary costs associated with those tests.
Target Student Population: This activity is geared toward learners in a senior level microbiology course or a clinical microbiology course.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Basic knowledge of viruses, immunologic testing, and secondary defense mechanisms of the body would be helpful but is not necessary due to the information presented in the lecture portion of the activity.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 3.75 stars
  • Very thorough, detailed information presented throughout the case study
  • Great explanation of ELISA
  • Great step by step explanations of each of the steps and why they are performed
  • The activity should not be taken on by lower level students, unless the faculty member assists the student through the activity
  • Navigation of the site is a bit confusing

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 3.5 stars
  • The scenario is very realistic and will actively engage the student in studying the outbreak
  • Great for understanding what’s involved in individual outbreaks and costs associated with each outbreak
  • Students can navigate the website as a homework assignment and print out last page for credit
  • Some students may struggle with the time and money allotment added as a level of managerial control in the case, especially since this is in British pounds.
  • Recommend a guide to show students step by step process for a desired homework assignment

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 3.75 stars
  • Great visuals with regard to immune assay
  • Great explanation of ELISA
  • The information flows well and is clearly presented
  • There is a great deal of information presented, and it can take hours (estimated at nearly 10 or more by the instructors) to complete the activity
  • Difficult to navigate

Other Issues and Comments: Very valuable resource to students to reinforce concepts of virology, diagnostic testing and epidemiology. However, this engaging activity is quite involved and at a level that should only be attempted by upper level students independently.