At the Biomaths Education Network meeting in June 2012 we discussed ways in which mathematical modelling could be taught with freely available software. Toby Carter described the use of StarLogo. Toby’s work built upon that of Anne Smith at the University of St Andrew’s which is described in V A Smith and I Duncan, Biology Students Building Computer Simulations Using StarLogo TNG. Bioscience Education, Volume 18: December 2011,
A related article in Bioscience Education comes from Sean Rands of the University of Bristol on the use of NetLogo to model flocking of birds.
The article describes very clearly how the practical class was set up and how the use of modelling was integrated within the class. The model of flocking behaviour will run within a browser however it uses Java and I had problems with the security certificate preventing the application from running on my computer and the website recommends downloading the Netlogo application.
Ref: S. A. Rands, Using Physical and Computer Simulations of Collective Behaviour as an Introduction to Modelling Concepts for Applied Biologists. Bioscience Education. Volume 19: June 2012
Ken Kahn ran an HEA-funded workshop at Oxford in April 2013. The workshop’s focus was on how to teach computer modelling to biology students via rich examples in epidemiology, ecology, and animal behaviour. They introduced two approaches:
The Behaviour Composer: a web-based tool designed to support teachers, learners and researchers, including those with little or no programming experience, to build, share, and discuss computer models.
The Epidemic Game Maker: a way to quickly and easily make models of epidemics and turn the models into games.
Both of these are available at http://m.modelling4all.org/ .