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D G Kleinbaum. ($69.95). Data Description, and Springer-Verlag, New York, 2002. ISBN 0-387-14257-6 (ActivEpi CD ROM); D G Kleinbaum. K M Sullivan, ND Barker. (Pp 518; $36.95). Springer-Verlag, New York, 2002. ISBN 0-387-95574-7 (ActivEpi companiontextbook).
ActivEpi is a multimedia interactive course on fundamentals of epidemiology in CD ROM, which is cross platformed in both Windows and Mac formats. The companion textbook is a supplement of the CD ROM.
ActivEpi is presented in 15 lessons. The first is the introduction to the getting started for learning effectively. Lessons 2 to 6 reviewed Objects and Methods of Epidemiology Research (epidemiology study designs, and measures of frequency, effect and potential impact), 7 to 11 are about Validity and Epidemiology Research (general considerations, bias, and Confounding), and the lessons 12 to 15 are devoted to the Epidemiological Analysis (simple, stratified, and matched analysis)
The principal benefit of the multimedia format is the active learning with lots of activities for better understanding and retention. Each lesson has animated expositions with real life examples, narrated instructional expositions, interactive study questions and short quizzes, homework exercises, practices with real data using Data Desk, and links to ActivEpi’s web site and other interesting related sites. The material easier to learn, it can be used in pieces rather than as whole lessons.
I enjoyed especially the lesson 10 about Confounding that, in my own taught experience, is traditionally one of the most difficult concepts for the student.
The author explains that in general, all of the material on the ActivEpi CD ROM is included in the companion textbook. The differences are mainly related to the interactive format of the CD ROM in the presentation of the answers of quizzes and the study questions, and some interactive activities, such as the exercises using the Data Desk Program.
I recommend widely ActivEpi for students and professionals who are beginning to learn epidemiology, and to those that have a more advanced level of knowledge.
My only suggestion to ActivEpi CD-ROM is about the small font size of the tool bars: Contents, Index, and Glossary, which cannot be changed like the one of the lessons by main tool bar.