We did some research two weeks ago, searching for mobile apps that covered a range of topics in the field of biomedical science (see the tables below). We found several apps that have information on DNA, RNA, genetics, genetic diseases and amino acids. The information was vast and the cost of the apps ranged from free to approximately $4.99 and one app was $16. In addition to the cost which may discourage youth in Botswana as the conversion rate is $1 to 10 pula, the teaching approach may also be an issue. Going back to what we mentioned before, no matter what platform we use, our teaching strategies must be engaging, fun and interesting. Through research, we discovered that most of these apps were geared towards a knowledgeable and experienced audience (i.e. students, scientists and educators). This was discouraging for us because we need a platform that is going to attract and retain not just the youth but the general public, those not familiar with medical and scientific jargon.
According to Coordinator of CAfGEN Project, Edward Pettitt, ''most of the available apps are reference-oriented, with a few being tools and calculators suitable for advanced tertiary students and/or scientists/clinicians. Very few are suitable for the general public and only one was a game (which was more fictional and not really educational). Therefore, it seems that there is a dearth of apps that are geared towards the general public and/or youth that have an edutainment approach." Additionally, we must keep in mind that mobile apps are an opportunity for independent learning to take place. Mobile apps must be programed to guide the learner through the various topics and aid in the learning process.
With that, we have discovered our own solution. Yup, you heard it here first. Genome Adventures is currently collaborating with fellow researchers aligned with H3Africa to develop an app that will help educate youth and the general public in Africa on genetics and genomics concepts, including the use of comics as an educational medium.
Although, only one app suited our approach many of you may find these reference based apps beneficial for your training programs, educational tutorials and research. Please see the tables below and pick the app that suits your needs. And if you have any information to share with us, please do so.