Common Sense Review
Updated May 2017

Learn.Genetics

Dreamland of multimedia resources for budding biologists
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Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating
Not Yet Rated
  • The home page of Learn.Genetics shows the full list of subjects.
  • You'll find many useful videos that simplify complex topics.
  • Interactive Explore pages, such as this karyotype activity, give kids a more active learning experience.
  • Articles are usually accompanied by colorful images.
  • The virtual labs are a basic introduction to common biotech techniques.
  • The evolution pages are accompanied by these misconception summary boxes.
Pros
Covers lots of high school biology topics with many accessible articles, useful and engaging videos, and interactive activities.
Cons
A very extensive library, but there’s no search function and no way to find what you need except to click through each subject and see what’s there.
Bottom Line
Biology teachers and students will find a lot of useful multimedia here to help them teach and understand complex genetics topics.
Kristina Duncan
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

This extensive library of multimedia biology resources is colorful and simply organized. Each page contains bright images, videos, or interactive activities to explore. The texts are not too long and have kid-friendly language.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

The info on the site ranges from basic overviews to more in-depth coverage, letting kids explore the topics at their own pace. The text of each article is very accessible for diverse learners and supported by images and videos.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Though simply organized, a search function or index for this large library would make finding what you need easier. All videos come with closed-captioning, and some articles include links to supplemental materials and citations.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Teachers who are always looking for video clips, simulations, animations, and the like to show to their kids -- for difficult topics such as DNA, genetics, and evolution -- will find a lot to offer from Learn.Genetics. Kids often don't have a lot of solid, firsthand knowledge about these subjects, so the more you can present the info to them in different ways, the easier it will be for them to build a more complete understanding; this site is a good place for you to find those resources and incorporate them into lessons.

With Learn.Genetics, you'll find appropriately detailed videos and animations to spruce up your lectures. You can assign articles or interactives for additional practice, individual work, or homework, or you can send kids to the site for research. Additionally, there's a companion site called Teach.Genetics where teachers can find free activities and lesson plans for common genetics and evolution topics.

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What's It Like?

Have you ever spent hours online looking for something, anything, to help explain to your students what DNA actually is and how it works? Learn.Genetics is a free website from the University of Utah that provides a vast library of multimedia pages, developed by researchers and science teachers. The site covers topics related to genetics, evolution, metabolism, medicine, cell biology, neuroscience, and ecology.

When you enter one of the subjects from the home page, you'll find a list of pages for that topic. Each entry is colorfully labeled with Explore, Interactive Explore, Learn More, Video, and more. Explore pages are usually engaging short articles or videos that give a basic overview of a topic. Interactive Explore pages give kids a slightly more active experience, such as an interactive diagram or simulation or virtual lab. Learn More pages give more in-depth information about a specific topic; each page has text, diagrams, and/or videos or interactive activities.

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Is It Good For Learning?

You'll find lots of good articles and videos at Learn.Genetics that will help kids learn about complex biology topics. The site is simple, colorful, well organized, and easy to use; one thing that would make the library even easier for kids is a search function or index so you can more quickly find the things you need.

The content pages are high quality -- not too long or wordy and accompanied by clear, colorful images or engaging videos. Together, the basic Explore and Interactive Explore pages allow kids to progress through the content at their own pace and then move on to learn more. The site also includes a set of four biotech virtual labs, covering topics such as DNA extraction and gel electrophoresis -- a great intro to basic biotech topics. In the evolution library, one nice feature is a summary box on each page listing common misconceptions about evolution, along with the real explanation. Overall, Learn.Genetics does a wonderful job introducing the basics and getting kids to dive deep into specialized biology concepts.

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