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| Goals and Intended Audience |
Rediscovering Biology was designed for high school biology teachers who have substantial knowledge of basic biology but who want to learn about important recent discoveries. It was also designed so teachers could familiarize themselves with research methods and tools that will lead to new discoveries to come. In designing the project we asked, What do teachers already know, and what information would help them better understand recent and future developments?
This is not a curriculum development project and does not attempt to provide materials for use in the high school classroom. In most cases, the level of presentation is too advanced for those who are beginning the study of biology. But through exposure to the research methods and techniques used by today's scientists, and with an understanding of some important new concepts, we hope that teachers will gain a heightened appreciation of ideas they already teach, as well as an increased ability to incorporate new topics into their curriculum.
Other users—such as college students, advanced high school students, professional scientists, graduate students from other fields, or well-educated laypersons—may also find this project useful. We welcome their use of these materials.
The materials were designed for use in various ways: Some individuals may want to learn about a single topic and study parts of one unit on their own. Some may join in small facilitator-led groups, such as professional development in-service sessions, to go over one or a group of related units. Others may choose to complete the entire course. For the latter group, graduate credit may be earned through Colorado State University. For information on earning credit or obtaining materials, go to www.learner.org/workshops/graduate_credit.html
How Topics Were Chosen
The teachers and researchers on our advisory board each proposed ten to twenty areas of biology that they thought had undergone significant change in the preceding decade. The cumulative list was then combined and narrowed down to 13 major unit topics that the group agreed would provide a good foundation for those wanting to learn about new developments in biology.
This is not a comprehensive treatment of the field of biology. It includes areas of study that may be entirely new to some, such as genomics and proteomics. It also includes more traditional topics, such as human evolution and neurobiology, which have changed substantially because of application of new techniques. Indeed, a common theme throughout the project is the application of processes and techniques at the molecular level to enlighten studies of organisms, populations, or ecosystems.
Assumptions About User Knowledge
We assume that users of this material have knowledge equivalent to that of someone with a bachelor's degree in a biological science. Most terms and concepts that are used in a high school biology text are not defined or explained. We also recognize that biology is a rapidly advancing field, and someone who graduated from college a decade ago could not have been exposed to some of what is taught today. Biology is also a huge field of study, and many students who graduate from college this year, even, will not have been exposed to all of the material collected here. Many of the concepts we explore can be found in a recent introductory college biology textbook such as Freeman's Biological Science, or Campbell and Reece's Biology. Users might find it useful to have access to such a text as an additional reference.
Rediscovering Biology is a multimedia project. Each of the 13 units is composed of a thirty-minute video, an online text chapter, and a set of learning activities. The Web site provides access to all of these, as well as additional resources, including:
The videos and the text chapters can be used independently; if both are used, it is possible to start with either one. We imagine that most users will watch the video first, then read the chapter, and then perhaps watch the video again. The learning activities are meant to be completed after watching the video and reading the chapter.
- a course guide
- a navigable glossary
- four interactive case studies
- edited transcripts of expert interviews
- animations from the videos and case studies
- images from the videos and Textbook
Getting the Materials
You may watch the programs online via Video on Demand or purchase DVDs and the course guide from our online catelog. The guide units are also available as PDFs under support materials on this Web site.