Week 9: Hybrid learning resources



Merlot’s section for Science and Technology offers thousands of resources such as simulations, virtual laboratories, and tutorials. Each listing has links to the resource, a description, and information about the primary audience, technological requirements, cost and copyright (in general, they are free to use for educational purposes). Merlot is the first place I’d stop by to look for a digital component to add to my classroom. Using the resources found in Merlot model digital age work and learning (NETS-T 3) because instructors exhibit fluency in the technology, collaborate with peers (Merlot allows users to upload instructional materials), and communicate content to students via digital formats.



Moodle is perfect for any educator wanting to have an online component in their classroom. Moodle is open source, so it’s available for anyone to use for free. Its features allow intructors to use it as a virtual classroom, with the ability to build lessons, host discussion forums, and ask students to work collaboratively in wikis and databases. I’ve taken a class on how to build Moodle sites, so I have good ideas on how to use it effectively to deliver content to students. A blended classroom is designed to promote student learning via a digital tool, so it covers NETS-T 2 (a). The environment uses collaborative ways to  promote student reflection, so it is also part of NETS-T 1, facilitating and inspiring student learning. Constructing a user-friendly Moodle site demonstrates the fluency of the instructor in the use of technology systems, and the site allows collaboration and communication digitally (NETS-T 3).



This complements the use of Moodle. In order to use all the tools offered by Moodle, they need to be on a website hosted on a web server. If your institution won’t allow it or doesn’t have the capabilities to do so, you can build your own Moodle site at Gnomio. Instructors get their own web address at gnomio.com and are able to allow access to their students only. Once again, when teachers exhibit fluency in the use of technology, they are modeling digital age work and learning (NETS-T 3); and we are incorporating digital resources in a technology-rich environment to reach NETS-T 2, “design and develop digital age learning and assessments”.



Jing is a free program that can be used to capture images and video from your own computer screen (a “screencast”). This tool is wonderful for making video lectures for a blended classroom. I have used it before with a powerpoint that I played on my computer as I recorded my voice via microphone. If you use it to capture images, you can easily label them with arrows and text. The only problem is that Jing videos only last 5 minutes unless you purchase the full version, known as Snagit. However, I find that breaking down the information into 5 minute segments makes it very manageable. Using this tool models digital age work and learning (NETS-T 3) because it’s used for communication and shows technological fluency. It can be part of a digital age learning experience if it’s incorporated into the classroom to support student learning (NETS-T 2 (a)).



Another option for a blended classroom is to create podcasts. It is easy to upload files to iTunes and have students download them so they can listen to, for example, a pre-lecture on their way to class. Audacity is a free tool that records audio, which can be saved in many formats. Audio files can be uploaded to a Moodle site as well, where mp3 files can be played directly. Once again, if this tool is incorporated into the classroom it can be part of a digital age learning experience (NETS-T 2 (a)), and shows the technological fluency of the instructor when it’s used for communicating information and ideas (NETS T-3 (a) and (c)).



This tool can be used to make presentations. The usual tool seems to be Microsoft’s PowerPoint, but those files can take up a lot of space. Prezi presentations are more dynamic, “freeform” and lightweight. Prezi can use images, video, and animations, and put them together in a  3-D environment. Students can go through slides at their own pace. The Prezi environment encourages creativity and inventiveness as suggested by NETS-T 1 (a). The learning experience incorporates a fun digital tool (NETS-T 2 (a)) as the instructor demonstrates technological fluency (NETS-T 3 (a)). Both students and instructor can communicate using this digital format (NETS-T 3 (d)).

Online exhibits at Koshland Science Museum


Particularly, the infectious disease webquest and the inherited disease activity. They are interactive, interesting, and up-to-date with the latest scientific research. I could use either of these activities after covering basic content and before a hands-on laboratory, or to replace a hands-on lab completely. This resource is particularly appropriate for distance learning. The museum even includes a teaching guide with worksheets, suggestions for critical thinking questions and group activities. The resources in this website facilitate and inspire student learning because they promote innovative thinking, engage students in exploring real-world issues, and proposes collaborative activities to further their understanding of the topic (NETS-T 1). In a blended environment, we are incorporating digital resources that promote student learning, helping us fulfill NETS-T 2 (a) and (b).

Bio-Alive Biology and Life Science Video Share


Bio-alive lists video lectures, seminars, conferences, simulations, virtual labs and even videos of surgical procedures. Many of these videos are hosted on YouTube, but some of them are hosted on their own institutional websites. Basically, this is a community where users link to relevant scientific video resources; users are forbidden from posting copyrighted material. These videos are a great way to introduce new material to a blended classroom or reinforce what we’ve covered before. Since this is a community, instructors and students must follow etiquette and exhibit ethical use of the technology and intellectual property of the video resources (NETS-4 (a) and (c)). The variety of media offered is a great way for instructors to model digital age work and learning (NETS-T 3 (c )).

DNA from the beginning


I was so excited when I found this resource. We often cover the history of science and the experiments that changed the way we saw nature over time (like Sir Isaac Newton said, “if I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”). This website shows all the classic genetics experiments animated; plus videos, images, biographies of the incumbent scientists, quizzes and links to other relevant resources. I’d love to include this in my classroom for a more engaging way for my students to appreciate everything that scientists have done over the years. According to NETS-T 2 (a), these resources contribute to a digital age learning experience because they are a contemporary tool to promote student learning. Teachers are able to communicate the content thanks to a variety of digital media (NETS-T 3 (c )).

NOVA Education


NOVA provides some wonderful videos to complement the blended classroom. Not only that, but they also host interactive activities that act as virtual labs, in a similar way to the article I reviewed. One activity that I would add to my hybrid classroom is “Create a DNA Fingerprint”. Another one is “Extract your own DNA”, a video tutorial that guides students into extracting their own DNA at home, using household products. Thanks to these resources, students would be using simulations to explore complex scientific issues (NETS-S 1 (c)), and practice procedures for solving real-world problems (NETS-T 1 (d)).


Week 7: Social media learning resources

The Science Forum


This is a general forum that is open to anyone’s input. User are very active and come from all walks of life. Although my students wouldn’t be able to create their own boards, they could create their own thread and get an input of information from all over the world. According to NETS-T 3 (b), it would be a great tool for students to collaborate with one another, as well as provide an opportunity for instructors to assist. This also provides a good chance to exercise NETS-T 4 (c): by participating in the forum discussions, you can promote responsible social interaction in the online environment.

Open WetWare


I love OpenWetWare, it was a great find when I was an undergraduate Biology student. This is a wiki platform for lab protocols; it is updated with the best and newest lab practices. It boasts an impressive list of links to online tools that are specific to the Biological field (such as calculators and analysis tools). Academic labs and groups are welcome to join in. This website covers many NETS standards. It is a good one for NETS-T 2(a-c) as it encourages the creation and sharing of your own lab work. It is also a good example of NETS-T 5 (a), because Open Wetware acts as a global learning community for exploring different applications of learning.

Open Leaf


This is a student-only networking resource for educational purposes. It only launched earlier this year. The neat thing about this site  is the way that networks are setup: you can talk to people on your own campus (I am the only student from WOU so far!), people with the same major and minor, or people sharing the same courses. This allows students to fulfill the entirety of NETS-S 2 by giving them a chance to interact and collaborate with students from multiple campuses and disciplines. It also covers NETS-T 1 (c), as this promotes collaborative learning.

Biology Beta


Another question and answer site specifically for Biology that is open to everyone. The cool thing about this site is that you can vote on questions and comments depending on their level of contribution to each discussion thread, so the good content ends up at the very top. Plus, discussion posts are easy to find with tags. This resource covers NETS-T 3 (c), since an instructor can answer questions and communicate with various students. That also carries over to NETS-T 5 (a), as it is a global digital resource for both students and teachers.

Reddit – r/science, r/askscience, r/biology, r/microbiology, or make your own subreddit!


These are subsections of the popular social site reddit. Similar to the previous resource, users vote on the best content, so that the important comments rise to the top.  The community in the science subreddits is amazing; you can ask any question and an expert is almost guaranteed to give you a thoughtful reply. Plus, students can make their own subreddits! I would love to have this in my classroom. This is a good site for NETS-T 1 (c), since it is another place for students to collaborate ideas. It also covers NETS-T 2 (d), because teachers can used the information amassed there to find better explanations for lesson concepts (I know I have!)

Blogging platforms – WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, etc.


There are several online websites that allow you to sign up for a free blog; these are just a few of them. Having your students start a blog advocates creativeness and inventiveness, thus covering NETS-T 1 (a) and NETS-S 1 (b). This also works for NETS-T 1 (c), as it promotes self reflection and student collaboration through post replies.

Collaborize classroom


This website can help instructors build an online class or supplement a traditional class. The website provides tools for adding and sharing teaching resources, setting up conversations, and gathering data on the class, which satisfies NETS-T 2 (d). It also covers NETS-T 2 (a) as you can design an entire course here, and NETS-T 5 (b) as it spearheads the usage of an online environment for learning.



This social networking site is the facebook of education. Students get a secure place to collaborate, share content and form a community. Teachers get almost all the functionality of Moodle (posting grades, assignments, quizzes, polls, discussions, creating subgroups, etc.). This is a good site for NETS-T, as educators can collaborate in building knowledge with their students and colleagues. They can also moderate the discussions in Edmodo, which can cover NETS-T 4 (a) and (c) by promoting ethical use of data and proper etiquette in discussions.



Twitter is a networking site for sharing content in 140 characters or less. Experimenting with in-class use of twitter has encouraged students that usually would not have joined in to participate, which covers NETS-T 1 (c).  The use of a modern social tool via computer or phone to share and gather student information covers the NETS-T 3(d).

Google +


Everyone uses google. Our WOU email is based on gmail. In Google +, you can share information and images like in twitter, but you can also join in group voice and video chat, or Google Hangouts for synchronous online sessions! This is a great example of NETS-T 3(c) and 1 (c), as you can set up video hangouts to exchange information. Google+ can be used to coordinate group projects quite effectively, makes it an excellent tool that covers NETS-S 2 (d).

Week 5: Project-based learning resources

pbworks (one of many wiki platforms)


pbworks is only one of many free wiki services offered on the internet. Those who teach using Moodle have the chance to use the wiki tool built right into the program. Wikis are an amazing way to keep track of student participation and learning during a project. Sandra Porter’s post on her blog Discovering Biology in a DIGITAL WORLD highlights the ways she uses wikis in her bioinformatics class: she posts her syllabus, lab activities, assessment questions, and has pages for student notes. Since this is a collaborative resource, it satisfies NETS-T 1 (c) and NETS-T 5 (a). Specifically, wikis provide an excellent way for students to share their creative process and notes, and sharing can also be done between local teachers or those from around the world to further help their students.


Poll Everywhere


I have used this online polling service before to assess my students’ perception of a topic before getting into it. With this tool, students are able to respond to prompts in real time via texting. A poll would be a good addition to any learning project for assessing student knowledge before, during, and after the project. The relevant NETS for this tool are: NETS-T 2 (a), since the site uses cellphones, a new digital resource, to promote learning. Also, NETS-T 3 (d) is reached by using a current digital resource to gather data from the students, helping to evaluate their learning needs.


Case Collection –  National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science at the University at Buffalo


Case study use in science education can help teachers convey scientific content as students develop their critical thinking skills. The projects included in this page involve contemporary issues that anyone can find in the news. The website includes basic information about each project (abstract, keywords, objectives), teaching notes, and the case study itself in a pdf file that is so thorough it could go straight from the website into the classroom. This perfectly exemplifies NETS-T 1 (b), as the case studies are from real world issues, and students can use them to develop their problem solving skills and critical thinking. Case studies are also related to NETS-T 2 (b), as the case studies could be chosen by each student, and studied and answered at their own pace.


Microbe World Video


These video podcasts by the American Society for Microbiology highlight the most interesting aspects of Microbiology and the most critical medical news- such as flu outbreaks, the use of microorganisms to make biofuels, vaccine efficacy, etc. These would be great introductions to learning projects. The podcasts here fit with NETS-T 3 (c) by properly communicating important information to the students on the processes involved with Microbiology, but also on career information and the tools of the trade. NETS-T 5 (c) is also covered since the collection of videos covers current practices in the field.


Internet for Microbiology


This is an amazing guide that teaches students to use the internet like a Microbiologist- it talks to them about the process of academic research, finding sources, evaluating them, publishing, communication, etc. and how to use current digital resources to accomplish this. It comes with a huge list of all kinds of resources. I would direct my students here when it’s time for them to do a research project so that they know how to find and correctly use sources. This site is another good example of NETS-T 1 (b), since it has students working as a real microbiologist would in their career. The guide also does a good job of covering NETS-T 4 (a), by pointing out how to best evaluate the literature, and how to present it in a legal and ethical manner


AMSER – Applied Math and Science Education Repository


This is a repository  that’s extremely relevant to me, since it specifically collects community college-level resources. There is a huge variety of learning activities that could be incorporated to various stages of Biology projects. For example, AMSER linked me to this interactive lesson on aseptic technique, which would be an engaging introduction to lab work. AMSER is a good example of NETS-T 5 (c), because it helps me, the teacher, expand on my knowledge of adequate activities for a community college setting. It is also a good one for NETS-T 2 (a), because they are digital tools – many of them interactive- that can be adapted for my own classes.




Mindmeister is a mindmapping online tool that’s extremely easy to use. It is great for project-based learning because it can help students visualize and structure their ideas creatively, either individually or collaboratively. This tool is a great example of the NETS-T 1 (a) and (c) in action, because this site allows students to model their creativity in a visual way, as well as collaborate with their peers in the process. The tool also represents the NETS-2 (a) since it can be adapted for several learning purposes, while once again promoting self and collaborative creativity.


FreeBIEs – Project Based Learning for the 21st Century


This resource is more geared towards teachers preparing for project-based learning in their classrooms. It includes guides that help us organize the project, plan it on a calendar, prepare a rubric, keep track of project management, etc. FreeBIEs is relevant for NETS-T 3 (a) as it demonstrates a knowledge of technology on the part of the teacher. By using new technology resources, a teacher can act as a leader for students using digital tools in their learning; so these tools are also relevant to NETS-T 5 (b).




I am loving this resource. They include user-uploaded rubrics for all sorts of Biology projects, sorted by grade level. One of the best rubrics I found in iRubric is this Lab Report Assessment which guides students into crafting a well-constructed scientific report. Scientific communication is a huge component of Biology projects. This resource covers all of NETS-T 2. Through this tool you can design your own digital resources for students, and customize them for each group. You can make a more custom and personalized rubric to fit with more student types as it makes it easier to grade and keep track of the students progress. And since the site is great for sharing, collaborating, and pooling data, it can be better used to analyze teaching and learning trends. In addition, as this allows the teacher to contribute their lessons for sharing, it is also a good example of NETS-T 5 (d).


HHMI – Virtual Labs


These virtual labs could become integral to my Biology projects. Some of them are introductions to topics, and in extreme circumstances some could be used as substitutes for wet labs. Although these exercises are meant for individual students, they can be easily adapted for collaborative efforts. This is another good example for NETS-T 1 (b), and (c), as it has exercises that challenge student problem-solving abilities individually or in groups. These virtual labs can be adapted for different classes, and promote creativity through interactive resources, making them a good example of NETS-T 2 (a).

Public domain resources

Public domain resources are hard to find and use in Biology because once we cover the basics, we move on to current research- most of which is copyrighted or shared under Creative Commons. Nevertheless, I managed to find some resources that I could use in my classroom.

The Biodiversity Heritage Library
This e-library contains over 50,000 natural history works (such as Charles Darwin’s famous “On the origin of species by means of natural selection”) both in the public domain and under CC.

Smithsonian Institution’s Flickr
The Smithsonian provides images both in the public domain and under CC. Many of these would be an excellent addition to any science lecture- for example, images from the Portraits of Scientists and Inventors.

US Food and Drug Administration
Since it is published by the government, text and graphics in this website are public domain. This is a great place to find booklets that can aid instruction of introductory and advanced Microbiology, such as the Bad Bug Book.

US Fish and Wildlife Service National Digital Library
A government-published collection of wildlife materials. The videos and documents are a source of information on various animals, diseases connected to them, and their interaction with the changing environments. There are several excellent resources that link this education to real world use.

National Center for Biotechnology Information – Bookshelf
Provides access to Biology and Health Care books; much of the content is authored and published by the the US government, and occassional copyrighted material is especially marked. Great resource for students of Medicine or General Biology.

Medline Plus – A service of the US National Library of Medicine
A good source of medical pictures, diagrams, videos and descriptions. The topics range from general anatomy to various diseases.

The CDC Image Gallery
A very wide range of images and articles mostly centered around health, but going in depth about the particular maladies and risks. The health risks can also be sorted by age and lifestyle to narrow down a topic. These can be linked to assist in class presentations.

U.S. Geological Survey
A mostly public domain site with excellent Biology and Microbiology photos, as well as teaching resources (videos, lectures) for different student groups.

National Cancer Institute
A good collection of various anatomy and cellular pictures. There are also some nice stock photos covering general science and technology.

Public Domain Images
A collection of public domain photos of very high quality. The Biology and Medical Science photos can be of use in lectures and digital presentations.

Creative Commons resources

A primary source is a document or physical object written or created during the time under study. Some examples of primary sources are interviews, speeches, manuscripts, news film footage, original creative works, and relics or artifacts. A secondary source, on the other hand, is one that interprets a primary source, such as textbooks and magazine articles.

In my discipline, Biology, our primary source is original research in the form of conference papers, lab notebooks, patents, studies, surveys, proceedings, theses and dissertations. My experience in teaching and learning Biology has involved both primary and secondary sources: we follow a textbook but supplement instruction with original texts, images and video, and learn about innovative research via journal articles.

The internet has made primary and secondary sources universally available; these are some of the materials and tools I’ve found under the Creative Commons (CC) license.

All of these resources are related to the NETS-T 2: Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments, which asks teachers to incorporate digital resources into the learning experience. Also, because they are under Creative Commons licenses, they Promote and Model Digital Citizenship (NETS-T 4) as the use of these materials exhibits respect towards intellectual property.


Public Library of Science (PLoS)
PLoS provides a huge variety of scientific journals online. One neat feature is the PLoS blogs, which features scientist sharing their research a little more informally.

BioMed Central
Self-styled “the open access publisher”, another provider of scientific journals which are available online immediately upon publication.

Nature Publishing Group (NPG)
Only certain journals under the NPG are published under CC:  Molecular Systems BiologyClinical and Translational Gastroenterology, and Cell Death and Disease. Plus, any article that publishes the genome sequence of an organism for the first time falls under CC as well.

Open educational resources

Many higher education institutions provide course materials (lecture notes, exams, videos) for free under CC. The OpenCourseWare Consortion attempts to list all of these courses in their website. Some major contributors of course materials for Biology are:

MIT OpenCourseWare

Tufts University OpenCourseWare

Utah State OpenCourseWare

Open Learning Initiative at Carnegie Mellon

Johns Hopkins school of Public Health OpenCourseWare

Webcasts by the University of California, Berkeley

Open Yale courses

Khan Academy

The Open University


 Tools & Media

The MicrobiologyBytes Video Library
This gallery hosts hundreds of Microbiology videos which would help students visualize the microbial world.

Wolfram Demonstrations Project
This website hosts interactive illustrations that can be used to visualize complex concepts. (While you’re here, stop by WolframAlpha to calculate nearly anything! )

The MicrobeLibrary from the American Society for Microbiology
This website hosts a variety of resources that could be used to enhance lecture or lab presentations (images, videos and animations), plus a useful Critical Thinking Question Bank is in the making!

Open Wetware wiki
This wiki is maintained by many research groups around the world and hosts mainly biological protocols for laboratory research.

OER Commons
This website is a repository for user-uploaded resources such as lectures, games, assignments, lesson plans, syllabi, training materials, etc.

MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching)
Similar to OER Commons, MERLOT houses a variety of learning materials for tens of disciplines. All the content is licensed under CC.


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