Digital World Biology Presents, "Overcoming Technical Barriers to Incorporate Molecular Structures in Teaching with Molecule WorldTM on the iPad and iPhone," at the annual American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG).
Location and time: 2238F Friday, Oct. 9 Convention Center, Exhibit Hall, Level 1 -- 11:45am-12:45pm
It is impossible to grasp fundamental concepts of genetic variation without understanding the relationship between sequence, structure, and function. While an abundance of data resources can be used to help students understand these relationships, they are underutilized because easy-to-use tools are not yet commonplace. Filling the gap between the embarrassment of data riches and practical classroom use requires user-friendly tools, content that demonstrates specific applications with interesting stories, and packages that combine instruction, assessments, and inquiry-based investigations. Finally, in our experience teaching bioinformatics, we have observed that, when given a choice, many students prefer to use their mobile devices instead of desktop computers. Consequently, to acquaint students with bioinformatics, the educational tools and materials need to be operable on these devices.
In response to nearly two hundred interviews with K-12 and college teachers and students, we created the Molecule World iPad and iPhone apps to display 3D-data from multiple structure databases (MMDB, PDB, and PubChem). Molecule World employs a novel rendering engine that allows us to uniquely highlight chemical properties and sequence orientation. The ability to display and highlight sequences within molecular complexes enables exploration into the relationships between sequence, structure, and function in new ways. In comparison to desktop programs, students and teachers have communicated that Molecule World overcomes the obstacles associated with installing software and understanding complicated user interfaces. Other data, collected in professional development workshops, and bioinformatics courses, along with summer technical camps with high-school students, support the hypothesis that being able to view and simultaneously interact with data improves teaching capabilities and student engagement.