RESULTS OF AND EVALUATION OF A NOVEL SMARTPHONE APP FOR LEARNING MEDICAL PARASITOLOGY
1 De Montfort University (UNITED KINGDOM)
2 Universidad de Alcalá, Departamento de Ciencias Biomédicas (SPAIN)
3 Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Conference name: 14th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2022
Location: Palma, Spain
Abstract:Learning medical parasitology is complex because of the number of clinical competences that students need to acquire in a limited time, as well as skills to detect and distinguish a myriad of different microscopic parasitic structures for their diagnosis. Moreover, learning this science requires overcoming important challenges, including the significant reduction in the number of lectures/practical time dedicated to the teaching of parasitology, coupled with reduced access to appropriate resources and parasitology professionals worldwide. Our international e-Parasitology team has undertaken a comprehensive development project in collaboration with the Institute of Artificial Intelligence at De Montfort University (DMU, UK) to create an app for Smartphones based in our open access e-Parasitology© website. The app was co-developed by two multimedia developer experts, who were hired by important DMU schemes for promoting acquisition of work skills and experience (Sandwich Placement and Graduate Champion). A pilot version of the e-Parasitology© app was originally launched on the Android mobile platform in April 2020 to be tested before its completion, which presented different elements of three of the main modules available in the e-Parasitology© website: theoretical (specifically four e-learning units for the study of emerging human parasites), microscope and two virtual clinical case studies. The app was built with different pieces of software, including Unity (Unity Technologies, San Francisco, CA) for the development engine. We tested the pilot app with fourth year Pharmacy students at the University of Miguel Hernández de Elche (UMH, Spain) in 2020/21, in a specific workshop in which they needed to complete the case studies available in the app. These students also used the app for studying medical parasitology during the coronavirus 2019 pandemic. Seventy-four students (out of 125) voluntarily provided feedback at the end of the workshop. 78.4% (62.2%agree, 16.2% strongly agree) of responders highlighted that the novel app helped them to study and acquire a better knowledge of the parasitic diseases studied; meanwhile 59.5% indicated that completing the virtual cases facilitated their understanding of the lectures, which were delivered virtually in Google Meet©. Although preliminary, our results could suggest a similar impact of the app on students’ learning to the e-Parasitology© website. However, these UMH students seemed to prefer the website when we compared their impressions about enjoyment of the e-Parasitology© resources used. Thus, 90.2% (n=113; 2018/19) of students indicated they enjoyed the website to study parasitology during their second year at UMH, meanwhile only 55.4% (44.6% agree, 10.8% strongly agree) of this cohort highlighted that they enjoyed using the app for studying parasitology during their 4th year of Pharmacy study. Following the collected feedback, important modifications were carried out before final launch on 30th September 2021 as a freely downloadable app from Google Store (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.DMUHLS.eParasitologyApp), which included the introduction of different gadgets for indicating students’ attainment and performance in completing the different formative questions and mini-games available in each unit, for promoting self-learning and engagement.
Keywords: E-Parasitology website, app, Smartphones, medical parasitology, virtual learning.