Publication Details

This article was originally published as Russell, AW, Netherwood, GMA and Robinson, SA, Photosynthesis In Silico. Overcoming the Challenges of Photosynthesis Education Using a Multimedia CD-ROM, Bioscience Education, 3, May 2004. Original journal available here.


Photosynthesis is a central topic in biology education. It remains one of the most challenging, largely because of a) its conceptual difficulty, leading to lack of interest and misconceptions among students; b) the difficulties students have in visualising the process, or relating it to things they can see, especially when the topic is presented purely as a molecular process; and c) limitations to the practical demonstration of photosynthesis because equipment is either cheap, unreliable and antiquated or prohibitively expensive. In response, we have combined expertise in photosynthesis research and education, and in graphic design, to produce an interactive, multimedia package, available on CD-ROM, containing two practical modules and three theoretical modules, for tertiary level students. Features include an animation of photosynthetic electron transport, suitable for a lecture presentation or for self-paced learning by students, and experimental simulations of photosynthetic gas exchange and chlorophyll fluorescence which can be used either as stand-alone packages or, where equipment is available, to supplement and enrich a laboratory demonstration/experiment. As well as improving learning outcomes through the documented advantages of computer-based learning, this set of modules provides students with access to the latest experimental techniques and theory, improving their understanding, updating their skills and switching them on to the amazing process that brings energy into our biosphere.