Avida-ED as a potential online lab experience


Dear BioQUEST Colleagues,

One option to consider if you are moving a biology lab course to a virtual format is the use of Avida-ED.

Avida-ED is an educational application developed at Michigan State University for undergraduate biology courses to help students learn about evolutionary mechanisms and science practices. Avida-ED is modeled on bacterial evolution, inspired by the Long-term Evolution Experiments of Rich Lenski and his colleagues. Avida-ED allows students to design and perform experiments to test hypotheses about evolution using digital organisms.  Avida-ED is the educational version of the model system used by researchers to do experimental evolution.  It is not a simulation, but an instantiation of evolution that allows for real experiments.  Avida-ED produces authentic data that can be analyzed within the application or exported for further analyses.  Avida-ED has been used in classrooms across the country and the world for over a decade.  

Some benefits of Avida-ED are:

-       Avida-ED is free.
-       Avida-ED requires no special registration or configuration.
-       Avida-ED is accessible on-line and runs locally in your web browser.
-       User-friendly interface requires little technical training to use.
-       Includes ready-to-use exercises to teach a variety of evolutionary concepts.
-       Can be used for open-ended labs where students design their own experiments.
-       Can be used to teach principles of experimental design and scientific method.

Please see the Avida-ED web site <> for:

-       Link to the Avida-ED application launch page
-       Model exercises (under the Curriculum link)
-       Quick start user manual
-       Background information about digital evolution
-       Articles about Avida-ED, including effectiveness studies

The Avida-ED team is quickly working to provide instructional videos for the core lab book exercises from Active-LENS train-the-trainer workshops we offer each summer where we teach faculty how to use the software in their classes.  We can also provide instructor support materials for some exercises offline for certified instructors.  A mirror <> of the Avida-ED site is available in case the primary site goes down.

Good luck to everyone as you make the quick pivot from face-to-face to virtual instruction. 

Stay healthy!


Jim Smith
Michigan State University


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