CAPACITY BUILDING USING AN OPEN-ACCESS E-PARASITOLOGY PHONE APP
1 De Montfort University (UNITED KINGDOM)
2 University of Makeni, Department of Public Health (SIERRA LEONE)
3 Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche (SPAIN)
4 Universidad de Alcalá, Departamento de Ciencias Biomédicas (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Conference name: 14th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 8-9 November, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:Since early 2019, De Montfort University (DMU, UK) is leading a project to build teaching/research capabilities (Peña-Fernández et al., 2020) at The University of Makeni (UNIMAK, Sierra Leone, SL) to provide future health practitioners with appropriate skills to respond to emerging zoonotic parasites using the virtual open-access resource e-Parasitology (available here: http://parasitology.dmu.ac.uk/). Specifically, the e-Parasitology package was introduced in the curriculum of the four year degree programme of BSc (Hons) Public Health (http://unimak.edu.sl/wordpress/routes-to-study-and-learning/courses#degrees), to teach medical and clinical parasitology in a range of different modules, (e.g., in the third year modules of “Infection Prevention and Control” and “Clinical Bacteriology, Parasitology”). Likewise, this virtual package was also used in the final year rotation module “Senior Clinical Microbiology, Parasitology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Immunology Rotation”. Its open access nature facilitates quick adaptation of the package to address increasing biomedical knowledge and respond to future challenges in medical education. However, and to overcome the technology limitations found in SL after our first intervention, an associated app for Smartphones was built. This novel app, which is available in Google store from March 2020 (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.DMUHLS.eParasitologyApp), was introduced in UNIMAK’s Public Health programme to help with the online teaching of medical parasitology in 2019/20, an academic course that was slightly delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students from different years that studied medical parasitology in the above modules were asked to voluntarily test the app and complete a two part feedback-questionnaire, with different multiple choice questions (MCQs), which was distributed at different times (beginning and end of the course). Thus, students completed part A of the questionnaire at the beginning of the course/module to be able to record their background knowledge in medical parasitology. The second part, named part B, was completed once students played with the app and completed the virtual case studies available (by the end of the course). The MCQs presented a myriad of different questions on basic medical parasitology, including microscopy photographs for diagnoses of parasites. This second part of the questionnaire also contained a mix of Likert style and open questions to collect information about their impressions on the novel app. Appropriate statistical analysis of the MCQs yielded significantly higher average scores in students that used the app (M = 8.38 vs. 6.22; p = .019). This result highlights the acquisition of knowledge and detection skills, key competences for any future health practitioner. In addition, most students agreed or strongly agreed that they acquired appropriate knowledge of the pathology (84%), prevention (84%), and treatment (79%) of the different parasitic diseases studied through the app, essential skills for capacity building to control zoonotic parasites and tackle the high morbidity and mortality indices reported in Sierra Leone.
Keywords: E-Parasitology app, clinical parasitology, Smartphones, online learning.