The Web component of The Brain: Understanding Neurobiology Through the Study of Addiction is a wonderful tool that can help you organize your use of the module, engage student interest in learning, and orchestrate and individualize instruction. The site features simulations and illustrations that articulate with the lessons.
Links for downloading the Adobe Flash plug-in are on the Web site’s Getting Started page. This plug-in is required for the activities to function properly. The recommended hardware and software requirements for using the site are listed below.
Note: The above setup (or better) is recommended. Although your computer configuration may differ from this, the site may still be functional on your computer. The most important items in this list are current browsers and plug-ins.
Before you use this or any other piece of instructional software in your classroom, it may be valuable to identify some of the benefits you expect software to provide. Well-designed instructional multimedia software can
The ideal use of the Web site requires one computer for each student group. However, if you have only one computer available, you still can use the site. For example, you can use a projection system to display the monitor image for the whole class. If you do not have access to the Web site, you can use the print-based alternative provided for each Web activity.
We designed many of the activities in this module to be completed by groups of students working together. Although individual students working alone can complete many of the specific steps, this strategy will not stimulate the types of student-student interactions that are part of active, collaborative, inquiry-based learning. Therefore, we recommend that you organize collaborative groups of two to four students each, depending on the number of computers available. If necessary, up to six students may work as a group, although the students may not be as involved in the activity. Students in groups larger than this will have difficulty organizing the student-computer interactions equitably. This can lead to one or two students’ assuming the primary responsibility for the computer-based work. Although large groups can be efficient, they do not allow all students to experience the in-depth discovery and analysis that the Web site was designed to stimulate. Group members not involved directly may become bored or uninterested.
We recommend that you keep students in the same collaborative groups for all the activities in the lessons. This will allow each group to develop a shared experience with the Web site and with the ideas and issues that the activities present. A shared experience will also enhance your students’ perceptions of the lessons as a conceptual whole.
If your student-to-computer ratio is greater than six students to one computer, you will need to change the way you teach the module from the instructions in the lessons. For example, if you have only one computer available, you may want students to complete the Web-based work over an extended time period. You can do this several ways. The most practical one is to use your computer as a center along with several other centers at which students complete other activities. In this approach, students rotate through the computer center, eventually completing the Web-based work you have assigned.
A second way to structure the lessons if you have only one computer available is to use a projection system to display the computer monitor onto a screen for the whole class to see. Giving selected students in the class the opportunity to manipulate the Web activities in response to suggestions and requests from the class can give students some of the same autonomy in their learning they would have gained from working in small groups.
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