ASSOCIATES (vol. 10, no. 1, July 2003) -

*Visualizing Cell Processes [Video Series]*
5 x 15 min. Closed-captioned
Programs: Cells and Molecules -- Cell Movement and Transport
-- Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration -- DNA Replication, Mitosis,
and Cell Reproduction -- The Genetic Code and Its Translation

Designed and produced by BioMEDIA ASSOCIATES
in association with Castle Builders Entertainment, 2000-2001. US$295/series, $60/title

Canadian distributor: Magic Lantern Communications, CDN$565/series, $115/title

Video Review


Sylvia Skene
Library Technician
Advanced Education Media Acquisitions Centre
Langara College
Vancouver, BC, Canada

It's a great series. Buy it if you love science!

What? You want a longer review? More details before you spend your shekels? Well, okay.

I have a confession: before I became a card-carrying library technician, I threw myself at the ivory tower of Science and went splat a few times.

Despite obviously failing to meet the rigors of advanced learning in this field, my familiarity with subject areas that the Humanities-heavy library world lacked has made me surprisingly qualified to judge whether a science video is suitable for post-secondary curricula. Videos that library professionals with Arts majors previewed and deemed worthy I gave a thumb's down on as being only grade 8 or 9 level. Just.

Unfortunately, this has also exposed me to a lot of frustration. Frankly, there ain't a lot of good "stuff" out there even at the introductory post-secondary level. One memorable series had a perky couple hosting the programs -- I called it the "Dick and Jane Say Calculus is FUN!!" series. Yuck. Conversely, I got quite unhealthily excited about a short chemistry video that showed how to do 3 experiments. It was a low-budget, no-nonsense production with well-thought-out visuals and a straightforward script.

Which brings us to the Visualizing Cell Processes series.

Produced by the venerable BioMEDIA Associates company, this series uses live shots, computer animation and microphotography to gracefully illustrate various cell processes, such as DNA replication, exons and introns, and prokaryote evolution.

Each fifteen-minute program is divided into between four and eleven learning modules. According to BioMEDIA's web site, "[t]he content is organized around the National Science Standards for teaching biology to grades 10-12." Each module is narrated by either a male or female voice, and can stand on its own as a teaching supplement.

The script, written by Bruce J. Russell and David Denning, quickly and succinctly goes through each sub-topic. (If this series were used in distributed learning, students would definitely have to keep a finger on the rewind button.) As a former science student, I can appreciate the effort that went into making this production clear, understandable, and yet not so simple that it lacks educational substance.

My only quibble is that the production could have defined its scientific terminology more consistently. But I still got excited about it.

I would certainly highly recommend it to any library which serves senior high school or introductory college or university level science students and instructors.

P.S. See either distributor for more information; BioMEDIA also has Quicktime video clips for preview, and program teaching guides.

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