NEWSLETTER: VOL I, # 5
Mark Bergland, Professor of Biology at UW-River Falls
by Laura Hansen, Editor of TTT, Spring 1997
Professor Bergland uses the Web and software he has developed to enhance his courses. Starting last semester, Professor Bergland has been teaching students how to construct Web pages for the first month of his Freshman Colloquium orientation class for majors. Students then publish a career paper based on an interview with a professional in the field as a Web page accessible from the Freshman Colloquium home page. Individual students' Web sites stay up as long as the students are enrolled in the university.
Students in Professor Bergland's Ornithology class are also trained to publish their work electronically. After conducting independent field studies of bird behavior and writing summaries in scientific format, ornithology students publish their summaries on the Internet with links to other sites. Similarly, in his Wildlife Biology class, students formulate and then present wildlife management plans in Web page format.
Professor Bergland has authored his own software program, "DNA Electrophoresis Module for Case It!" which is used by Introductory Biology and Molecular Biology students. This software cuts any DNA sequence with any combination of restriction enzymes and run realistic gels and Southern blots. By interpreting these gels, students can solve case study problems in human genetics and forensics. For example, last week Introductory Biology students started extra-credit projects using the software to analyze case studies in human genetics, including Alzheimer's disease, breast cancer, sickle-cell anemia, Huntington's disease, and Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy. After running Southern blots of DNA samples originally obtained off of the Internet from the GENBANK database, the students will play the roles of genetics counselors interpreting the gels and discussing ethical issues for the families involved.
When asked whether or not teaching the students how to use the technology (specifically the web) interfered with teaching the content of the course, Professor Bergland stated:
Not at all. This is a revolution in information technology, and so far I've been able to blend course content and web page construction without taking too much away from either. For example, the first two weeks of Ornithology lab were spent on Web page construction, but now the students can publish their Species Accounts Summaries so any other student in the world can see them--a small price to pay for missing two weeks of traditional lab work out of an entire semester.
You can check out Professor Bergland's Home Page at:
Also, a sample species account summary for ornithology can be found at:
If you would like to learn more about Professor Bergland's software Case It! (which can be downloaded free of charge for beta testing) or his courses in general, feel free to email Professor Bergland at email@example.com