Developmental Biology Courseware that Integrates Multimedia Technology into the Laboratory and Classroom Experience

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Tyler, Mary S.
Biological Sciences; Vade Mecum; Biology; Science and Mathematics Education
report description
Biological Sciences (61) It is paramount to the learning of science that students participate in science as active learners and researchers. The use of multimedia technology to facilitate this goal offers an inexpensive way of making materials available to a large number of students and encourages students to be independent learners. This project is developing multimedia courseware that makes a wealth of resources available to undergraduate college students who are exploring the field of developmental biology. This field has gained tremendous importance recently because of its relevance to our daily lives through techniques such as cloning, genetic engineering, assisted reproductive techniques, and our realization of environmental impacts on development. It is important that college students gain an understanding of this field and that educational materials be available that make it both exciting and accessible. The multimedia courseware this project is developing consists of an interactive CD-ROM that interfaces with an interactive Web site. This CD-ROM/Web hybrid instructs students on techniques and the biology of organisms used in this field. The courseware is called Vade Mecum, Latin for "go with me," which was a term used in the past to designate a manual or handbook, and is used here to refer to the portability of this courseware, aiding its usefulness as the student uses it to explore developmental biology. One of the strengths of Vade Mecum is that it is fully integrated with a laboratory manual and coordinated with a major textbook in the field. This creates a unified package that facilitates both teaching and learning. Vade Mecum uses QuickTime movies, QuickTime Virtual Reality modules, an extensive gallery of labeled photographs, interactive learning sequences, puzzles, questions, and Web links to communicate to students how to create their own investigative tools, how to work with various model organisms, and how to understand the complex life cycles and development of these organisms. Web modules allow and encourage students to post their own work and discussions in the "Virtual Poster Session" and "Virtual Round Table" sections. By showing students the methods for low-cost experiments, how to construct their own tools out of common, inexpensive materials, how to adapt an inexpensive microscope to have it perform as an expensive instrument, and by keeping the cost of the Vade Mecum CD to a minimum and making the Vade Mecum Web Site available to all, this course material will be useful to learning at all institutions regardless of their financial status.