In Search Of Biology Ed. Software

Brian Foley brianf at med.uvm.edu
Wed Oct 19 14:38:47 EST 1994

Dann Sklarew (dsklarew at osf1.gmu.edu) wrote:
: If you have any suggestions of relevant software which I should review
: (borrow) or purchase, could you please send your list to me at
: dsklarew at wpsco.gmu.edu? 
: -----------------------------------------------------------------------
: Dann Sklarew				          dsklarew at wpsco.gmu.edu
: Dept. of Biology		                     T: (703) 993-1043
: George Mason University			             F: (703) 993-1046
: Fairfax, VA 22030-4444
: -----------------------------------------------------------------------

	I spent (wasted?) a lot of time checking out software for
biology education a year ago.  Most of it was pretty lame.  Compared
to what you see on video tape and in textbooks (Do you watch educational
television?  There is some great video available!) the stuff I have
seen from software companies and shareware vendors is junk.
	I found that the best way to integrate the use of computers into
biology was to use them the way real biologists use them. 1) Buy real
spreadsheet software and graphing software and have students analyze real
data.  2) Get access to the Internet and have students get 10 or 20 
DNA polymrease gene sequences out of GenBank, translate them into
protein, do a multiple sequence alignment, design oligos that should
amplify a DNA polymerase gene from any organism. 3) Have the students use 
a word processor program to write lab reports.  4) Teach them how
to organize and analyze data with simple databases.
	If you want fancy "animations" of cell division and such, go with 
video from programs such as NOVA and other educational shows.  It is of
vastly superior quality.  The one exception might be ADAM for teaching
human anatomy.  If you want to see what real quality bio-educational
software is, check that one out first.  It is still not as visually
exciting as "The Mystery of Life" video, but it is interactive.

*  Brian Foley               *     If we knew what we were doing   *
*  Molecular Genetics Dept.  *     it wouldn't be called research  *
*  University of Vermont     *                                     *

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