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Ecology as part of a web-based introductory biology curriculum.
KIRSCHTEL, DAVID1, BATZLI, JANET1, HEIDEMAN, MERLE1, MCGROARTY, ESTELLE1, MERRILL, JOHN1, PARKER, JOYCE1, RUSSELL, RANDY1, SMITH, JIM1, 1
ABSTRACT- Developed as part of the First Year On-Line Biology Project, we will present highlights from a set of ecology modules used in teaching introductory biology. A major initiative of FYOL is the development of a web-based, interactive and collaborative introductory biology curriculum as a way to promote active learning in a class notorious for the passive learning associated with large lectures. The ecology modules we developed are divided among four general topic areas: Biogeochemical Cycles, The Struggle for Existence, Patterns in Space and Time, and Humans and the Environment. Using the multimedia capabilities of the web, these ecology modules include hypertext files, still graphics, interactive animations, video clips and java-applets. Development of interactive Java applets was facilitated through the use of the Stella2Java package. This system allowed us to rapidly develop customized ecological simulations using Stella and then convert them into interactive java applets without having to know the Java programing language. Students then had the option of working with the simulations as an embedded applet or outside the web using a runtime version of Stella. The backbone of the FYOL system is the MSU LectureOnline software package, consisting of programs which allow hypertext documents to be customized, individualized and organized to generate different course content without requiring additional software or plug ins. The system also has the ability to provide individualized problem sets where each student sees a slightly different computer-generated problem set. This encourages collaboration between students on a conceptual level, but prevents blind copying of answers.
KEY WORDS: ecology education, active learning, world wide web