UniServe Science News Volume 13 July 1999


Introducing Web Site Reviews

UniServe Science

Software reviews have always been a regular feature of UniServe Science News. These reviews have been commissioned by UniServe Science and carried out by Australian academics. We feel this is a valuable service and we will continue with it. We also welcome software for evaluation.

However, with the rapid changes in technology and varying approaches to teaching and learning, the focus of information technology in science teaching is turning to the web. With this in mind we believe it is appropriate that we extend the review process to include educational web sites. We have compiled review guidelines and a checklist to assist in the review process. Details of the review guidelines are published below and the checklist is available on request. The reviews of web sites commissioned by us will be available on-line at This newsletter also contains the first such web site review First Year Biology Virtual Resources Room. Our plan is to make these a regular feature alongside the software reviews.

We would like to hear from any of our readers who are interested in reviewing a particular web site or who use or maintain an appropriate web site that they wish to be reviewed and included in the newsletter.

Web Site Review Guidelines

  1. Reviewer's name, affiliation, email and correspondence postal address:
  2. Site URL:
  3. Site title:
  4. Date visited:
  5. Date site was created:
  6. Date site was last modified:

Rating: (Excellent, Good, Average, Poor, Not useful)

The rest of the review should be in narrative form, covering at least the following points (preferably separating them using appropriate headings and sub-headings):


Does the site state its objectives, and are those objectives appropriate in your opinion?

What audience is it intended to serve? Does the site make it clear?

Which science discipline is it applicable to? Does the site make it clear?

Content related aspects:

What topics/content are covered?

Please comment on usefulness and richness of each topic.

How complete is the content?

How accurate is the content?

Is any of the content original?

How appropriate are external links? What is the quality of these external links?

How would you rate the educational value of the site?

Which subject areas might this site be used in? What level might it be used at? Possible usage - extension, introduction, laboratory session, formative assessment, summative assessment, other (please explain)?

How useful would this site be for teachers of these subjects?

How useful would it be for students for study and/or reference purposes?


Is the site easy to access, or does it take forever to load? Do the items appear only when the site is fully loaded?

Does it require special software or plug-ins (e.g. Shockwave, QuickTime, RealAudio) to use many of its elements? Is the plug-in available at the site?

Does it state a preferred browser?

Are there any special browser requirements?

Can you select frame or non-frame version?

Can you select text-only version?

Is access free or is there a subscription charge?

Are there any other access restrictions, i.e. password protection?

Interface related aspects:

How do you find the layout of the web site? Is the site structure and content clear as soon as accessed?

Is the background colour and graphics non-intrusive, fonts readable, and images viewable?

Do the pages contain the right amount of information or is there too little/too much? Are the graphics appropriate?

Do the pages adjust for changes in viewing windows?

How easy is it to find information on this web site? If there are icons, is their identity and what they are supposed to do immediately clear?

How equipped is the site with navigational aids? Are there well-placed navigating tools?

Are there any search facilities available? If yes, do they come up with correct information?

Does the information flow logically from one page to another? Are you tempted to go further into the web site after browsing introductory material?

Does the site use audio, video or other special effects? How appropriate are these effects?

Are animations used effectively?

Overall issues:

Who is supporting the web site: an association, a commercial firm, an individual, ... ?

Does the site state contact details of site owner(s) (such as email, postal address, etc.)?

Does the site include advertising? If yes, is it clearly differentiated from the main site content?

Is the site kept up-to-date? Are there any signs of regular updates? Does the content look obsolete or current? Do the external links annoy by failing to connect?


Are you using the site in your teaching?

Would you recommend your colleagues use the site in their teaching?

The things you liked the best

Things which could be improved

Any special remarks!

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UniServe Science News Volume 13 July 1999

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