Next year, I hope to take a small group of students, aged 15-18, to Iquitos in Peru, where we will board a boat to take us up the Amazon to study the rainforest. So I was particularly interested to see that Iquitos is featured in the Introduction to Ecosystems series of slides on Ecology, a media presentation CD-ROM.
The Amazonian rainforest is just one of many ecosystems featured on this comprehensive resource. There is a bias towards Australia and New Zealand – not surprising, given that the publisher, Biozone, is a New Zealand company. However, all the sets of slides are easily edited, so any extraneous material can be removed and the excellent pictures and information tailored to fit specific courses.
The set of slides with the largest amount of material is the one addressing human impact (see full contents list below). This includes eutrophication, biological oxygen demand, global warming, integrated pest management and bioaccumulation.
Each set of slides consists of a colourful and informative PowerPoint® presentation. Sometimes the slides have too much text, so a judicious pruning in advance could make them more accessible to a class.
The slide sets have been “produced to complement the student resource and activity manuals” and are recommended for use as overhead transparencies (although, for this purpose, I would reduce the level of detail on many slides); with a digital projector; on school computer networks (the site licence is included); and with an interactive whiteboard (although I’m not convinced of the interactivity of most of the slides).
Ecology is a key part of all biology studies and these slide shows could be modified to fit many age groups. As they are, they are probably a little more detailed than necessary for England’s A-level requirements (ages 16-18).
There are restrictions with this CD-ROM. You may not print handouts for students, even if you modify the slides to fit your own lesson. This is a real drawback, as without notes, students will want to copy the information on the slides and thus slow down the pace of a lesson.
Overall, Ecology is a useful source of visual information that could help teachers to provide a sound course, and help students to appreciate some of the concepts of ecology, as long as the theory was supplemented with practical work. I recommend this CD-ROM for anyone with a generous budget who teaches a biology course with an ecological component.
Publication date: 2005 (Version 1.0)
The CD-ROM requires a Windows or Mac computer with a CD-ROM drive. Slide shows can be run using PowerPoint®, Keynote® or QuickTime® or Adobe Acrobat® PDF. Technical support is available at firstname.lastname@example.org
Distributed by Biozone International Ltd.
PO Box 13-034, Hamilton, New Zealand
For European sales, email: email@example.com
Price: €189.95 (individual PowerPoint presentations can be purchased separately: e.g. Populations and Interactions costs about €28)