Using Interactive Multimedia to Enhance Student Access to Information on Plant Anatomy and Cell Biology

in HortScience
Robert L. GeneveDept. of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Univ. of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40546

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An interactive multimedia presentation was developed using authoring software (Authorware from Macromedia) to provide information on plant anatomy and cell biology. Our current course in growth and development of horticultural crops has limited time and lab facilities available for these subjects, yet a good foundation in this area is important to understanding growth and development. This software uses a variety of techniques, including color digital images, illustrations, cartoon animation, and video, to teach aspects of cell biology and different plant cell types. In addition, a review session allows students to interactively test their knowledge of the subject. The software was placed on a Dept. of Horticulture server that provided student access to a folder for course work. Students were able to access the software from anywhere on campus via the University network. Multiple students can use the software simultaneously. The approach of using a local server provided easy access and avoided some of the delays involved with viewing large (1 mb) images found when using the World Wide Web. It took students several weeks to complete the software's modules. Then, students completed an independent plant anatomy lab using the software for reference. Students were required to create a virtual notebook of labeled digital images captured from prepared microscope slides using a microscope attached with a digital camera and linked to a computer. Students found this approach to learning to be challenging, and initial feedback has been very positive.

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