This site explains in significant detail the structure, purpose, and functions of the brain. It maps and provides detailed descriptions of the brain’s functions, and it includes links that take the reader to tutorials on other functions as well (e.g., basic senses, neurons, and dreaming). It would be a good potential resource for students to review for background information on the brain. Of particular note: It resides under the Science tab on the HowStuffWorks website and includes links to social media such as Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.
Type of Material:
The website serves as a tutorial.
• The site offers a good general introduction to or review of the brain. This is particularly helpful for those taking courses that reference the brain (psychology, biology) yet do not necessarily cover the individual sections and function of the brain.
• This site provides a significant amount of material that faculty can use to design learning exercises. The material could support research projects (in which papers and presentations cite and reference the provided online information), the development of a reference list relating to the topic of brain development,and even assignments that call for students to evaluate the validity of information presented on the web.
Two reviewers successfully accessed the website using the most recent versions of Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Internet Explorer.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
• The student will learn the parts of the brain and their general function(s).
Target Student Population:
Any students interested in the brain would benefit from the materials on this site. The level of material is targeted to college students and would be relevant for both undergraduate and graduate level coursework. It would be particularly useful for students studying medicine, biology, chemistry, nursing, and anatomy, along with social science students (e.g., psychology).
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
No pre-requisite knowledge is needed. Only basic computer navigation skills would be needed to successfully use this site.
• In addition to the information directly presented, the site includes interactive links that take visitors to tutorials on other functions of the body such as seeing and dreaming. Descriptions are brief, yet clear – a nice overview of the brain and how the parts work.
• The content on this site is highly comprehensive and includes a tremendous breadth of information relating to the topics. It has link-outs to a number of external sites, which from a cursory review appear to be recent.
• Several of what appear to be links are really just ads. These distract from the content.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
• Material is presented in a logical order taking the reader through the parts of the brain, but one can easily move through sections to cover more. The tutorial concludes with more links to related information, including a brain quiz.
• The amount of external links provided is the most outstanding feature of the site. In addition to the basic information presented, the author has provided link-outs that provide the visitor with the opportunity for additional learning.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
• Overall the site is simple to navigate. All sections are clearly labeled.
• The ads that appear on each page can be distracting.
• At the time of the review, several links did not appear valid.
• The chunked nature of the readings across 11 separate pages could prove frustrating for readers who prefer a different type of navigational experience. A “view full article” option for the reader would be beneficial.
Other Issues and Comments:
This website provides educational material that can be applied in courses relating to medicine, biology, chemistry, nursing, and anatomy, as well as in social sciences such as psychology. A "citation and date" link at the bottom of each page provides a ready-made reference that students can apply to ensure accuracy in referencing and citation.
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