Title: Virtual versus real: an argument for maintaining diversity in the learning environment

Authors: Sue Franklin, Mary Peat

Addresses: School of Biological Sciences, F07, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia. ' School of Biological Sciences, F07, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

Abstract: One of the debates within science teaching is the appropriate use of diverse materials to enhance the learning experiences. Significant amounts of time were set aside within curricula for relevant practical experiences but these are now often being replaced by alternative activities. In the biology context, practical experiences have included dissections, drawings, microscopy, experimentation and discussions. For many reasons, an increasing number of students these days are disinclined to handle biological materials, whilst financial cutbacks are making their provision more difficult, which makes teaching the discipline increasingly difficult. This paper discusses how first year biology students at The University of Sydney use a variety of virtual resources to provide a stimulating learning environment in an atmosphere of dwindling resources. Our research shows that students find both real and virtual materials useful in supporting their learning, illustrating the value of offering a diverse range of materials.

Keywords: science teaching; tertiary teaching; virtual resources; evaluation biology; higher education; Australia; e-learning; online learning; learning resources; biology education.

DOI: 10.1504/IJCEELL.2005.006793

International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life-Long Learning, 2005 Vol.15 No.1/2, pp.67 - 78

Published online: 15 Apr 2005 *

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