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PANDEMIC: THE PHANTOM MENACE: LEARNING GENETIC ENGINEERING BY A GAME-BASED METHODOLOGY

Four contagious diseases are spreading across the Earth. Students of the subject of Fundamentals of Genetic Engineering (FIGG) at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) must acquire the necessary skills to save the world.

FIGG is an optional subject of the Second Year of the Degree in Biology. The aim of the subject is providing a first approach to the knowledge and application of genetic engineering techniques. During the course 2019/2020, we applied a didactic project in this subject based on the Flipped Classroom and the application of gamification methodologies. The project was based on the PANDEMIC board game (ASMODEE IBÉRICA), a cooperative game where a hypothetical situation is posed in which four deadly and strange diseases have appeared on earth. The cure that will prevent the disappearance of humanity depends on a team of specialists. Players must cooperate to control each epidemic and control its progress within a given time. Thus, each team must stop the wave of infections while finding the cure. In this project, we used a variant of this game with FIGG’s students where they had to perform different tasks that facilitate the understanding of genetic engineering techniques.

Unexpectedly the commence of the subject in the course 2019-20 (and of the game) coincided with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent home confinement that took place in Madrid from March 2020 to the end of the scholar course. Although the situation was complicated the pertinence of the topic contributed to maintain the interest of the students. After analyzing our experience during the past course we have now implemented this initiative for the 2021-2021 academic course. Specifically, in this work, we present our results of the PANDEMIC project and the improvements we are going to carry out.