Site author Richard Steane
The BioTopics website gives access to interactive resource material, developed to support the learning and teaching of Biology at a variety of levels.

Background information on these topics

The most recent information on this site ('Higher Level Topics') covers AS and A level Biology, and in particular the AQA specification.

Over the years I have written units on a variety of topics, especially in response to problems shown by my students and also answers to exam papers I have marked.

I have tried to make these interactive using gaps in the text, questions with hidden answers, diagrams with hidden data, terms which can be heard when clicked upon, and sometimes longer spoken (explanation) sections. I have drawn diagrams and flow charts myself to explain topics - some of which are animated. I have also brought in (appropriate?) graphics from a variety of sources.

I have most recently taken to writing a web page for each complete section of the specification, and for the latest sections I have adopted a certain way of presenting this information:

On the left side of the page (if you are looking at it on a desktop or laptop screen) I have put down the basic information, but not in a shortened or stilted way - not too many of the bullet points that some students like.
In fact some of you might say I am being long-winded, but it is not costing you anything!

I have attempted to cover points which have been emphasised in exam marking schemes, and draw attention to common mistakes.

In another part of the website (the 'Howlers' section) I have accumulated some of this material - more for reflection than for ridicule.
On the right hand side (or later on if you are using a mobile phone) I have usually put in information which might be more complicated, or a bit whimsical.

This could be seen as extension material, or connection with other parts of the spec. Of course this could form the basis for exam questions, given a little explanation.

I have also sometimes researched the background to some themes chosen as the basis of certain exam questions, which might be seen as further 'food for thought'.

In fact there are often several subtopics within each section, and I can usually see why they have been combined in this way by the exam board.

However, it has sometimes turned out to be quite a lot of information . . .

Consequently, I wonder if users find the topics as presented here are all equally accessible, and whether there is the right amount of detail.

I would appreciate any comments about this material, whether you find it is appropriate (or not) for your purposes. I could even be persuaded to cover topics from other specifications you may suggest.

And actually I would be interested to see how it is being used. In fact I put a few questions about this on the front index page, but I have not received much response, although I used to get quite a lot of feedback a few years ago- mostly about GCSE topics. Perhaps students can get their teachers/lecturers to get in touch!

I also used to ask if visitors to the site were washed-up web surfers or responding to personal recommendation, but now I wonder whether you have used a search engine or a link from a website, quite a lot of which are hiding from me behind a password-only access page.

But more than that if you are a teacher/lecturer: are you using this material as a revision/reference before class, or are you using it from the front of class? And are you expecting students to work through it in the classroom, lab, library or home?
Do you set comprehension tests/worksheets based on it?

I am also keen to hear from anyone accessing this using a mobile phone - I know there are a few dodgey pages but I would appreciate any feedback.

You can easily pass on messages to me using the 'Contact via form' or 'Contact via email' links at the bottom of most pages.
I am not inclined to set up a forum or use social media which can sometimes get rather heated.

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