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Random Thoughts on Instructional Design

Selected Resources Highlighted at MERLOT 2006

The following online learning resources were highlighted at the 2006 MERLOT conference. This list does not contain all of the high-quality materials honored at conference – just the ones that I thought would be of interest to faculty at my Institution.

Animated Chemistry Tutorials and Models

Summary: “This site provides users with comprehensive and interactive tutorials (containing shockwave animations) on molecule representation and modeling including Lewis Dot representation of organic and inorganic compounds, atomic orbital and hybridization, VSEPR, and molecular orbital theory. The site is extremely versatile in that it can be used as reinforcement for lecture and laboratory for a variety of classes.”

Developers: Patrick Wegner and Andrew Montana, California State University, Fullerton


Summary: ‘“Evolution” is the companion site to the eight-part PBS documentary on Evolution. The site contains multimedia previews of each of the shows in the series as well as interactive tutorials/exercises related to the theme of each show. The eight themes are Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, Great Transformations, Extinction!, The Evolutionary Arms Race, Why Sex, The Mind’s Big Bang, and What About God? In addition, the site contains a library of many different types of web-based materials that support the exploration of this topic. Three different paths can be followed: one on the scientific process, one on evolutionary theory and one on human evolution.’

Developers: Anna Zeiser, Jason J. Hunke, and Karen Cariani, WGBH-Boston

Introduction to Sampling Distributions of the Mean

Summary: “This tutorial allows introductory statistics students to see the relationship between sample size and the variability of the sampling distribution of the mean. The site provides applets that simulate the sampling distributions of the sample mean and detailed exercise sheets.”

Developer: Dale Berger, Claremont Graduate University

Larry Green’s Applet Page

Summary: “This site contains links to dozens of applets that deal with topics in Basic Math, Beginning Algebra, Intermediate and College Algebra, Statistics, and other areas. The applets combine accurate, carefully presented mathematics with immediate feedback. Many feature a step-by-step tutorial approach, with feedback on correctness and hints being provided at each step in the guided solution of a problem. This tool could be very helpful for remedial activities.”

Developer: Larry Green, Lake Tahoe Community College

PhET-Physics Education Technology

Summary: “The simulations on this site provide a number of different ways to study and learn, including through movement of virtual objects, graphs, and manipulating numbers and equations. One of the most fascinating studies involves the virtual circuit simulator. The research work on this simulation indicates that students who use just the simulation have a better conceptual understanding of currents, voltages and currents.”

Developers: Carl Wieman, Noah Finkelstein, Kathy Perkins, and Roy Le Master, University of Colorado

The Brain from Top to Bottom

Summary: “The material presented on this site is very flexible with five levels of organization (molecular, cellular, neurological, psychological and social) and three levels of explanation (beginning, intermediate, and advanced). There are diagrams as well as text and several specific information modules that provide for different ways of looking at the materials and different formats.”

Developer: Bruno Dubuc, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Note: Please review the fair use guidelines on each of the sites if you plan on using any of these tools in your courses.


This entry was posted on August 16, 2006 by in MERLOT 2006.

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