Check out this awesome molecular biology animation by XVIVO. My favorite is the depiction of actin and microtubule assembly and the movement of a kinesin molecule tethered to a vesicle.
Apparently, Harvard has contracted out with this company to provide this animations to students. If that is true, that would be lovely. Anything that helps students understand better is a good idea in my book.
However, I am skeptical about the validity of this:
XVIVO’s animation plays an instrumental role in the BioVisions at Harvard program established by Dr. Lue. “Furthermore, preliminary evaluation shows that using animations as a part of their study resource enhances performance on questions requiring data interpretation followed by hypothesis building in the cellular context by almost 30%,” says Dr. Lue. BioVisions is a computer-based learning environment for undergraduate students that will allow them to delve into the science of cellular study with more depth and opportunities to enhance their understanding. Dr. Lue describes BioVisions as a long-term project which brings top multimedia professionals together with students and faculty to harness multimedia applications – from streaming video to three-dimensional renderings – to further undergraduates’ understanding of laboratory techniques, protein structures, and molecular and cellular processes (Harvard University Gazette, 2002.) (Emphasis mine.)
Ummm, right. Animations and PowerPoint are quite lovely, but they are no substitute for solid teaching. I find it rather difficult to believe that students who didn’t already understand are suddenly getting light bulbs over their heads because of some CGI graphics.