UniServe Science News Volume 18 October 2001

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Fungal Biology

Peter McGee
The University of Sydney

Enthusiasts wanting to study the biology of fungi are located in a number of universities around the country. Their chances of studying the topic in their own university is declining as funding reductions reduce appointments. The development of an online learning resource assists these people achieve an important objective.

The resource http://bugs.bio.usyd.edu.au/Mycology/default.htm uses a number of simple procedures. Text is supported by images of various kinds, manipulable graphics and links to related materials such as in depth comment, references (books and on-line). The materials can be viewed directly, or via open questions embedded within each topic. The questions each have a response that aims to provide one opinion.

Testing has been of two types, by experts and students. One module within the resource was compared to lectures. Students using the module attained similar marks to those using the lectures. Their comments were then used to modify the approach taken with the full resource. The resource was used by one full cohort of students in 2001. These people responded enthusiastically to the format and the material.

The resource has received recognition. In 1998, the earlier version was named as the 'Web Site of the Month' by the Computers in Teaching Initiative (CTI) Biology, and recently, the web site was shortlisted in the Australian Publishers Association, 'The Australian Awards for Excellence in Education Publicating', in the section for Tertiary web pages.

Because it is a 'living' document, the web page is constantly being modified and amended, upgraded and improved. As new links and materials become available, they can be added. Because students are increasingly computer-oriented, encouraging students to use the resource is becoming easier.

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UniServe Science News Volume 18 October 2001

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