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Peer Review

MIT OpenCourseWare-Introduction to Biology Fall, 04

by Robert Weinberg , Claudette Gardel , Eric Lander


Overall Numeric Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Mar 03, 2013 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview: This particular course covers the fundamental principles of biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, and cell biology with a focus on the exploration of current research in cell biology, immunology, neurobiology, genomics, and molecular medicine. This course (7.012) is part of the MIT Biology Department core courses, (7.012, 7.013, and 7.014) which cover biological function at the molecular level and particularly emphasizes and covers the structure and regulation of genes, the structure and synthesis of proteins, how these molecules are integrated into cells, and how these cells are integrated into multicellular systems and organisms.
Type of Material: This is a complete course in Introductory Biology with a syllabus and textbook/readings recommendations, practice exams and quizzes, study guides, link to social media sites and study groups discussion forums, audio lectures and lecture notes as well as solutions to problems assigned. The course has been translated and is currently available in five languages.
Recommended Uses: This site can be a stand-alone online course or its components can be adopted as a supplement for an online or face to face class. In addition, faculty may adopt any of the components and assign to individual or groups of students for a flipped classroom.
Technical Requirements: A current web browser that has a Flash plugin and Java.
Identify Major Learning Goals: Understanding of genetics, cell biology, and biochemistry.
Target Student Population: Advanced high school and undergraduate students will find this material very useful.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Pre-requisites may include knowledge of basic chemistry and biology as well as facility with computer access and operation.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
  • Excellent and thorough lecture
  • The course provides an online social media site ( for students to form study groups and discussion forums
  • The course includes optional lab exercises that can be done at home
  • Problem sets and recitation questions are included
  • The video quality is not the best but the closed-captioning more than make up for the short-coming
  • This version is from 2004; some material may not be most current

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
  • As effective as any lecture; not interactive, but lectures tend not to be; students will get out of the course what they put into it
  • The organization of the course materials allows for adaption of specific components without concerns of missing information in other segments of the course
  • The solutions to the assigned problems are provided which could enhance student learning
  • At the time of this review, there were no concerns about potential effectiveness of this site

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
  • Loads quickly, good quality video and audio
  • Each handout, video lecture, problem sets, or component of the whole class can be independently adapted to suit the needs of faculty and students
  • The learning materials are provided or delivered in appropriate lengths so that the normal attention span of the learner is not exceeded
  • At the time of this review, there were no concerns about ease of use

Other Issues and Comments: The pace and rigor of the class is geared towards higher-achieving students who have good science backgrounds but when taken piecemeal, the individual learning materials are excellent resources for supplements to online, hybrid, and face-to-face Biology classes.

Creative Commons:
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States