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Note: Due to incompatibility with Internet Explorer 7, Diagnosis for Crop Problems has been discontinued. This is an archive site which describes the software as it was at February, 2007. Some links have been made inactive where indicated.
Diagnosis for Crop Problems (formally Diagnosis for Crop Protection) is a shareware multimedia software package that aids in teaching the process of diagnosing crop problems. There are three programs, which can be used alone or in conjunction with each other. Only one of the programs needs to be purchased. The others are freeware. Also available from the website is an associated freeware program, CHALLENGE FRAP (Form for recording the analysis of problems). This can also assist with diagnostic training.
Details of these programs appear below...
1. The Diagnosis Player (Freeware)
Using the Diagnosis player, students are presented with a problem scenario and must interrogate the program to assess and analyse the situation. By looking at different plant parts, the growing environment, and by asking a variety of questions, the student gradually accumulates observations regarding the problem. Hypotheses can be formulated and further explored in the laboratory. Eventually, a diagnosis, justification and recommendation is entered by the student for later assessment by a tutor.
The Diagnosis Player has a comprehensive feedback system. If permitted by the scenario creator, in the Diagnosis Player the student may view the solution, recommended action, general debriefing comments, total cost and points accrued. Other feedback notes are also supplied. All student information can be saved to a file, to be marked later.
Diagnosis is not an expert system. When using the Diagnosis Player, the student is assumed to be the expert and they are expected to provide the diagnosis. What the computer does, is to provide a "virtual reality" for them to practice their diagnostic skills on. Observations are presented, and it is up to the students to determine the significance of these.
2. The Diagnosis Builder (Needs to be purchased) (No longer available)
Scenarios are constructed using the Diagnosis Builder. The Diagnosis Builder allows easy creation of many different scenarios for the same crop, and for a variety of crops. The trainer decides on a crop problem, and enters textual information and selects relevant images, sound segments and/or video clips. The scenario creator can build help and assistance into every aspect of the scenario if they wish. The program can also interface with the web through hyperlinks.
3. The Student Diagnosis Builder (Freeware)
Scenarios can also be constructed using the Student Diagnosis Builder. Tutors may wish to get their own students to construct scenarios, and so engage with the process in that way. The big advantage with using Diagnosis this way, is that pre-written scenarios are not needed. The students create their own, which then can be assessed or played in the Diagnosis Player.
The Student Diagnosis Builder has exactly the same functionality as the standard Diagnosis Builder, the only difference being that scenarios created in the standard Diagnosis Builder cannot be loaded into the student version. This means scenarios written with the paid copy of the Builder are keep safe from student scrutiny if tutors are primarily using the Diagnosis Player to teach students. Otherwise students could simply load in the scenario into their copy of the builder and see the solution and feedback without exploring it. This is one of the reasons why the standard Diagnosis builder is not freely downloadable and must be purchased for a small sum. It needs to remain in the hands of boni-fide plant pathology tutors otherwise it may become a cheat tool to discover the solution to a playable scenario.
Both builders incorporate a Player within themselves for testing purposes.
CHALLENGE FRAP (Form for the Analysis of Problems) is a modification of the DIAGNOSIS builder. However, rather than being designed to construct scenarios to be shown in the player, it is written to be used as an "electronic" student diary and guide. The data file can be used to record tasks, observations and reflections as students progress through a real diagnostic session, along with giving them guidance. FRAP forms can be emailed from student to teacher (or between students) for additional comments/input during the project.
CHALLENGE FRAP is generic and can be used in any subject domain, but a plant diagnostic template is included with it on this website.
For more information on Diagnosis for Crop Problems and CHALLENGE FRAP for diagnosis assignments , the following paper describes their use in detail. (note: you must be a subscriber to Plant Disease to view this paper on-line).