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Annotation: Editor's Summary

Title:  Fundamentals of Physical Geography
ID:   DLESE-000-000-000-035

Fundamentals of Physical Geography includes an on-line textbook, an on-line glossary to which the textbook is hyperlinked, hyperlink lists of additional web resources for each chapter of the textbook, and a weblog providing links to current geography-related news.

This site has received a large number of Teaching Tips, which indicate that the material has proven to be useful for a wide range of learners, from an airline pilot to high school students. Both educators and learners among the community reviewers gave this resource exceptionally strong scores on the rubrics for 'Bugs and technical difficulties,' 'Scientific accuracy,' and 'Ease of Use.' The lowest scores were on the three rubrics for 'motivational/inspirational for learners,' perhaps not surprising for a textbook-like resource.

The narrative comments from the community reviewers repeatedly stressed that this site made things easy to understand, often with pointed comparisons to other sources from which they had tried to understand the same materials: 'There is a good mix of animations, visuals and explanations that enable one to understand the topic better'; 'The way in which the information is threaded to build conceptual understanding is more effective than most web pages I have seen on this topic. The definitions are clear. The examples are relevant'; 'Covered the subject well without becoming too technical. Used everyday language which all can understand. Clear and to the point'; and finally, 'I was suppose 2 have learned this stuff already but I didn't understand it from my textbook, and luckily I found this site 2 help me out 4 my exam 2morrow, thankz.

Our specialist reviewers stressed 'that the resource has both the strengths and weaknesses of any textbook'; in other words 'like all textbooks necessary but not sufficient for student learning.' The power of the digital medium could be better leveraged by adding additional animations or interactive applets to illustrate the major concepts. The science specialist reviewers note a few details, especially in the glossary definitions, that are misleading or incomplete or out-of-date. Reviewers felt that the hyperlinked glossary would encourage students to look up unfamiliar words, and that the weblog listings of current geography-related news could be motivating to better students.

Kim Kastens, 6 Dec 2004

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