DEVELOPING A SMARTPHONE APP FOR LEARNING PARASITOLOGY
1 Leicester School of Allied Health Sciences, De Montfort University (UNITED KINGDOM)
2 Facultad de Farmacia, Universidad San Pablo CEU (SPAIN)
3 School of Computer Science and Informatics, De Montfort University (UNITED KINGDOM)
4 Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche. (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Conference name: 12th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-7 July, 2020
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:The teaching of parasitology is complex due to the number of practical skills that human health and clinical science undergraduate students need to acquire in a limited time due to a current downward trend in the teaching status of this discipline, coupled with reduced access to appropriate resources and parasitology professionals worldwide. Moreover, academics need to have the necessary tools and resources to be able to incorporate recent technical advances and cutting-edge topics into parasitology curricula. Future professionals need to be provided with the necessary skills to respond to outbreaks of infection due to emerging parasites as well as be able to continue tackling high levels of morbidity and mortality due to major parasitic diseases. De Montfort University (DMU, UK) and the Spanish Universities of San Pablo CEU and Miguel Hernández de Elche (UMH) have almost completed a novel web-based package, DMU e-Parasitology®, for the teaching and learning of general and medical parasitology. Despite the fact that this resource is freely available on the Internet (http://parasitology.dmu.ac.uk/), a comprehensive evaluation of the package performed in selected universities has highlighted the suggestion of developing an app for smartphones to facilitate access and enhance use of DMU e-Parasitology®. Thus, some of the 95 fourth-year Pharmacy students at UMH that tested DMU e-Parasitology® in 2017/18 suggested the production of an app. Moreover, during an intervention performed in April 2019 at University of Makeni (Sierra Leone, West Africa) to enhance the teaching of parasitology, it became evident that it will be easier for their students to access the package through an app as all had smartphones but presented very limited access to laptops, computers, tablets and/or the Internet.
In collaboration with the Institute of Artificial Intelligence at DMU, we are developing an app based on the DMU e-Parasitology® package, which will have the same four modules and resources for the appropriate study of parasitology. The app is being developed following the five steps of the instructional systems design model (ADDIE; analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation) and applying gamification elements to the mechanics, dynamics and aesthetics of the app scaffolding. The app is being built with different pieces of software, including Unity (Unity Technologies, San Francisco, CA) for the development engine. The app will be accessible through Apple and Android mobile platforms. Different elements of three of the main DMU e-Parasitology® modules: theoretical (specifically four e-learning units for the study of Entamoeba spp., Plasmodium spp., Schistosoma spp. and free-living amoebas), microscope and case studies, have been initially developed in a pilot app in the Android mobile platform. The pilot app for Android devices is available for beta testers to sign up here https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.DMUHLS.eParasitologyApp and is being tested and evaluated with different focus groups for appropriateness before completion of the final app. This communication will provide a complete description of the resources and steps used to produce the pilot app in conjunction with a full description of the generated pilot app and its resources and evaluation. This future app could play a significant role in parasitology education, and will be a new educational medium in the relatively short story of learning via apps.
Keywords: DMU e-Parasitology, gamification, mobile apps, parasitology education, smartphone.