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Use of an "Attenuated" Computer Virus as a Mechanism for Teaching Epidemiology

Gail Snitkoff, Dudley Moon, Mark Smith
American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education Vol. 62, Summer 1998, pp.141-144
ISSN 0002-9459

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Students often perceive epidemiology as a dry subject and not relevant. These same students, also often, do not perceive themselves to be personally at risk of infection. To make the teaching of epidemiology more interactive and to graphically demonstrate the concept of risk, an experiential learning exercise was developed. The experience was designed so students would access a weekly computer quiz in the computer laboratory. One of the computers was "infected" with a silent computer virus (tagged file). Therefore, while answering questions, the students exposed their disks to an infection, which was transmitted to other computers and disks. At the end of the term, the spread of infection throughout the class was monitored by identification of infected disks and computers. Explaining the infection which had been passed throughout the class facilitated a discussion of epidemiology and risk assessment. Students were surveyed to assess their response to this exercise which was found to be extremely favorable.

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