In this paper, we will: Present the instructional purposes and design of Net-Frog; Discuss the importance of HTML for development, distribution, and use; Describe the ways that the heavily visited program is being used, based on qualitative user comments and quantitative server-generated data; and finally, Consider how use of Net-Frog has encouraged use of the Internet.
Purpose of Net-Frog
Controversy surrounding frog dissection includes several issues: moral (use of animals), environmental (specimens collected in the wild), economic (expensive specimens), and educational (students often poorly prepared). Our previous research suggests that The Interactive Frog Dissection (originally a videodisc-based program) can be effectively used as a substitute for dissection, and so address the first three issues. Our research also indicates that, if conducting a dissection, use of the program prior to beginning can respond to the educational issue by better preparing students. With the emergence of the World-Wide Web (WWW), the Internet can now be used to distribute these interactive multimedia materials.
Design of Net-Frog
Net-Frog provides the dissection experience on-line (sans the smell). Both preserved and pithed specimens are depicted with 60 in-line color images to highlight the visual similarities and differences in the frog anatomy. QuickTime movies (n = 17) are used to demonstrate dissection techniques, and provide information unavailable from still photographs, such as how to hold the skin with forceps when making incisions, or how the lung inflates. Interactive practice involves users in the experience, asking them to identify critical locations for various dissection procedures and to find various internal organs. Feedback is provided, and the user can review at any time. In this way, Net-Frog goes beyond just providing information.
WWW? So What?
With the WWW, only one version of Net-Frog needed to be created in HTML, for access from a variety of computers (PC-compatible, Macintosh, Workstation, etc.). Further, access to Net-Frog is no longer restricted to those who have our videodisc. In the first eight months since its Internet release in August, 1994, Net-Frog has been used more each week (an average of 1,943 clients/week) than the videodisc-based program had been used in its previous five years of existence.
How is Net-Frog being Used?
From August 4, 1994 through March 31, 1995, over 48.5 billion bytes of Net-Frog data were served, in over 62,000 separate visits. Of that amount, the majority was delivered to clients within the United States. From foreign domains, British, Canadian, German, Dutch, Swedish, French, and Australian requests figured prominently. User-submitted comments also suggest the success of Net-Frog:
" I have the need to tell you that your tutorial is (gulp) doing incredible things for the way we educate ourselves and our children. Kudos to all involved."While usage in schools is still limited due to lack of Internet connectivity, we are finding that Net-Frog is an ideal tool for parents and children to use together:
"This is a wonderful tool for students...The interactive component was simply outstanding."
"My son (age 4) and I spent 20 minutes browsing... He was totally entranced."How has Net-Frog Encouraged Greater Internet Use?
"How can I convince my son that going to school is not boring when he can learn so much and do it voluntarily on the Net?"
We feel that Net-Frog is stimulating greater use of the Internet. From user comments we know that parents and educators are introducing the Internet and WWW to schools, teachers, and students as a function of their exposure to Net-Frog. Bioethics researchers and animal-rights activists are publicizing Net-Frog's availability, and teachers are recommending it to one-another in Internet discussion groups. We hope that these experiences will encourage innovative and effective instructional practice using the Internet as a powerful tool.