On April 13th, 2007, we took two separate groups of 18 middle schoolers, and asked them a simple question, and to raise their hand if they knew the answer.
“What is epidemiology?”
Surprisingly, none of them raised their hands. Out of 36 students, not one of them knew what epidemiology was. This is an example of how ill-informed the world is about epidemiology.
After the brief survey, we then allowed them to browse the site for a period of 15 minutes. The sixth graders were not pleased with the large amount of text that showed up, and groans of displeasure were heard. However, after hearing the fact that we had games, they quickly put on happy faces and proceeded down to the RPG section. Only 2 out of 18 in the first group actually decided to read the text, and 3 out of 18 in the other group. That means only 14% of kids were bound to look at the text, while the other 86%.
In terms of games, the students enjoyed it very much, but asked for the following to be considered:
In terms of design, the students generally enjoyed the design, however, they asked for the addition of more pictures.
Thoughts on Test Site, by William.
As I walked into that dimly-lit classroom of teenagers, of my fellow peers, there was an air of confusion and uncertainty about that room. They knew that they were to be testing a website, but what it was about, they had no idea. And, my voice piercing the silence, I simply asked one question.
“Raise your hand if you know what epidemiology is.”
And in that classroom, out of 18 students, none of them raised their hands. As I looked around the room, I managed to catch the expressions on their faces. One kid, way in the corner, was twiddling around with his pencil, uninterested in the question. He had a look of complete boredom and uninterest on his face, his expression quite dour. Another kid, on the other side of the room groaned silently, and rolled his eyes, glancing back up at the clock to see when this class would end. Over at a computer next to me, a kid gave me a look of confusion, her eyes of uncertain of what my statement would lead to next.
Thoughts raced through my mind at light speed . Was this how the public viewed the unknown, how they viewed epidemiology? With boredom, discontent, and confusion? And if an entire classroom of students were like this, what about the world? Did the world know of the importance of epidemiology? Did they even now it existed? Or would they just view it with the same emotions I had just seen?
This is why it is so important for us to do a website on epidemiologists; if this is how our young generation views it, who will grow up to be an epidemiologist? Who will be there to stop the disease from spreading? Will we all just pretend that the disease will go away, that the threat will just dissipate just by wishing it? The world needs to know about epidemiology, and it’s importance. The purpose of our website is to educate the public . Now we were going to see how our website would do.
The students half-heartedly typed in the address into the address bar, and proceeded to browsing the website. some lazily scrolled the screen, their minds somewhere on vacation. Seeing their obvious displeasure, I quickly added. "There are games! Go to the RPG section." The majority of kids sat up straighter and started to click to where they needed to be.
As they encountered the RPG's, I started to observe their behaviors. Would they actually read the text, and try and solve the RPG, or would they just click random things? The games were an attempt to actually teach students; most games on the internet, I feel, have no educational value, and are simply made for the fun of it. We wanted combine the fun of games AND teach the kids about epidemiology. It would be a way to get kids to learn, without scaring them off with giant blocks of text.
I was pleased to see that the majority of kids were actually getting into the RPG, and attempting to solve the case. I was also suprised to see some kids reading the content- 2 out of 18 were reading it. They seemed to be getting into the writing as well.
After the site test, the feelings were overall positive, and my peers congratulated me on a job well done.