Structural biology education commonly employs molecular visualization software, such as PyMol, RasMol, and VMD, to allow students to appreciate structure-function relationships in biomolecules. In on-ground, classroom-based education, these programs are commonly used on University-owned devices with software preinstalled. Remote education typically involves the use of student-owned devices, which complicates the use of such software, owing to the fact that (a) student devices have differing configurations (e.g., Windows vs MacOS) and processing power, and (b) not all student devices are suitable for use with such software. Smartphones are near-ubiquitous devices, with smartphone ownership exceeding personal computer ownership, according to a recent survey. Here, we show the use of a smartphone-based augmented reality app, Augment, in a structural biology classroom exercise, which students installed independently without IT support. Post-lab attitudinal survey results indicate positive student experiences with this app. Based on our experiences, we suggest that smartphone-based molecular visualization software, such as that used in this exercise, is a powerful educational tool that is particularly well-suited for use in remote education.
© 2020 International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

References

PubMed