THE IMPACT OF THE USAGE OF WEB ANIMATION IN TEACHING MOLECULAR AND CELLULAR BIOLOGY
Although microscopy has long been used as a valuable teaching tool, the use of computer animation in teaching has recently expanded. Animation can have advantages over microscopy, including simplification, unlimited resolution and magnification, ability to highlight certain symbols within a complex background, control of motion, shape, or color changes, and the step- wise fading in and out of symbols. To address the different learning styles of students, and be- cause students can access animation from off-faculty computers, the use of digital animation in teaching molecular and cell biology has become increasingly popular. Sample processes from molecular cell biology that are more clearly presented in animation than in static illustrations are identified. The value of animation is evaluated on whether the process being taught involves motion, cellular location, or sequential order of numerous events. Finally, future teaching tools for all fields of biology will increasingly benefit from an expansion of animation to the use of simulation. One purpose of this review is to encourage the widespread use of animations in biology teaching by discussing the nature of digital animation.
Over the last decade, the unifying approach of many biology courses has evolved from an emphasis on the whole organism to a concentration on the molecular and cellular basis of life. This change reflects the recent shift in biology research toward an approach that addresses questions of function, structure, development, and evolution at the molecular and cellular levels. To reflect these discoveries, students in freshman-level general biology courses are taught that organisms are made of cells, that eukaryotic cells are compartmentalized into organelles while prokaryotic cells are not, and that cellular life is maintained by molecular and cellular processes. Naturally, the complexity of these processes and their interrelation is often difficult for the novice student to understand.
Key words: computer animation, teaching, molecular and cellular biology, cell, organelles, mitosis, meiosis, student achievement.